Community Christian School (CCS) kindergarten teacher Mary Ruth Downs decided the school’s 65 students should wear matching fleece scarves for the 2016 Christmas musical. Parent volunteers at the Metcalfe school created the scarves by cutting bolts of fleece fabric into strips. Wanting to put the scarves to good use once the production was over, Mrs. Downs recalled that a church friend was putting together winter survival kits for homeless people in downtown Ottawa, part of an outreach program run by Ottawa Innercity Ministries.
When Mrs. Downs inquired whether scarves were needed for these survival kits, her friend said yes, 65 more scarves were required to complete the kits they were making—the exact number of scarves CCS had to offer! What divine confirmation that God meant these scarves to be used for this purpose.
Before delivering the scarves to the church, Mrs. Downs proposed that every student write a note to attach to each scarf. Since this task might be difficult for our youngest students, teachers decided to do this activity during “Reading Buddies,” a time each week where students in grades 4 to 8 are paired up with students in JK to Grade 3. Together students wrote words of encouragement, passages of scripture, prayers, or they simply wrote “Jesus loves you.” Each note was signed by a student and students prayed over every scarf before Mrs. Downs delivered them to the church.
Later, CCS received emails from front-line street workers. One email said, “I just wanted to take this moment to thank your students for the love in action they showed toward people who often feel alone, invisible, unloved and forgotten by the rest of the world. I handed out a scarf with a note from Jesse to a very cold homeless man who became speechless when he read the special note that Jesus intended to be just for him.”
A second email read: “Tristan’s special scarf and note blessed a dear street friend last night. This beautiful lady whom I’ll call Elizabeth accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour on the street with me about four weeks ago. She is a struggling addict who now knows to whom she belongs and that her salvation is secure with her heavenly Father in eternity. She was freezing cold on the street last night and I had the great joy of blessing her with Tristan’s scarf. Tristan’s note and the prayer on the back will provide her with the assurance that she is not alone on difficult nights.”
Mrs. Downs shared these emails with students at chapel recently, and students like Jesse and Tristan were moved to know their notes had a big impact on some of the people who received the scarves. Tristan said, “It felt really good and special to hear that I helped introduce Jesus to someone.”
Realizing these scarves represent a wonderful opportunity for our students to show love to broken and vulnerable people in Ottawa’s inner-city and encouraged by the feedback, more scarves were made this winter and students have attached personal notes and prayed over each one again.
Bonnie Gardner, one of the front-line street workers who has handed out the scarves, said, “Thank you CCS for allowing me to be part of what you are doing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”