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'They showed everyone belongs': Students' surprise holiday cards deliver more than seasonal cheer

For the kids at Oriole Park Junior Public School, it was a holiday mystery that arrived in the mail.

"Usually my parents get all the mail," Grade 2 student Penelope Batal told CTV News Toronto. "So, I've never got a mail addressed to me."

That all changed when she, and every other student at the school, found an envelope sent to their homes, containing a handmade holiday card.

"When I opened it, I thought wow this is amazing," said Grade 5 student Sam Ford. "People put like time and hard work into this ..and I just saw beautiful art–I'm like this belongs in a museum."

The cards had clearly come from the school, but no one knew who made them, or who sent them.

"When I opened it, it just didn't say any name," said student Mia Kopoivica. "So, I was a bit confused."

"Whoever sent this either they're probably shy, or they just forgot," said Simona Bandiera.

It was a purposely unsigned surprise that's had the kids talking ever since.

"They were like 'Oh my god, I got a card, did you get one too?’" said Grade 3 student Avery Gao with a laugh.

"It's been hard," admitted Amaya Gonsalves Haines. "People have been asking us, ‘Who did this? Who did this? Do you know?’"

They both do, because they're two of five Grade 3 students behind this act of holiday kindness.

The group of girls came up with the idea and took it to two teachers.

"The kids were so motivated, so dedicated," teacher Entela Galanxhi told CTV News Toronto. "They were so happy during this process and the joy at the end when they were ready!"

The students worked on the cards during their off hours, and during recess and lunch breaks. In the end, they made more than 300 cards. Canada Post donated the postage, and the kids made sure that every single student got a card sent to them through the mail.

"We wanted to make it for everyone," said Sajna Samra one of the card-makers. "So that everyone can be special."

They also made sure their teachers were included too.

"Staff got these as well," said principal Neil Quimby. "Staff were also excited when they got mail that wasn't a bill. That it was something that kids had created because they wanted to – not because they were told – it was because they wanted to, and they wanted everyone to feel connected."

Student Mehrasa Bakhshi said she and the other card makers kept their names off of the cards on purpose.

"Because this is like something that is not about us, it's about others," she said.

Teacher Carolyn Voight agreed, telling CTV News Toronto, "They didn't make it about themselves. They bought into the selfless act of this holiday moment."

For many of the kids who got an envelope in the mail, there was more to the card than just a piece of paper.

"Whoever made this worked really hard on it, and now they have a new friend they don’t even know," said Grade 2 student Abby Seguin.

Her classmate Madison Shan agreed, saying "I felt really supported, that people cared about me."

What started as a simple card, turned into a gift for students that will last through the holidays and beyond.

"I just felt like very happy that the students here care about everybody in the school," said student Coltrane Lavalley. "And they showed that everyone belongs." Top Stories

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