A Brantford, Ont. teacher says his class was caught up in unsympathetic bureaucracy after a mix-up at the post office nearly led to a goodwill package not being sent to African children in need.
Tom Zelazny teaches grades 5 and 6 at Woodman-Cainsville school in Brantford.
This year his students have been learning about good deeds.
“We’ve been doing a lot of charity work this year,” he said. “We’re involved in a soup kitchen with a local church. We do that once a month…we did a food drive at the beginning of the year.”
The class recently decided to send a package to children in South Sudan, a country ripped apart by ethnic violence and famine.
Homemade goodwill package
His Room 9 class saved their pocket money for about two months to fill the package with items such as pens and notebooks, flip-flops, toys and a soccer ball complete with air pump and a class photo of themselves, Zelazny said.
“Some of these kids are searching through couch cushions, saving their allowance, to get this money,” he said.
The delivery plan was to mail the package to Nairobi, Kenya where it would be picked up and flown to South Sudan, with the help of a Canadian pilot who works for a charity in the region.
The students orchestrated the whole process themselves, said Zelazny.
Earlier this week, he and a group of students took the package to a local pharmacy hosting a Canada Post depot, where they paid $152 to have it shipped.
“It was all up to the kids, so I had one of my students fill out the declaration form,” he said. “I didn’t notice it, neither did the postal clerk, but she had the ‘to’ and the ‘from’ [address] reversed. It’s an honest mistake, we’re talking about an inch difference on the slip there.”
As a result, he says, the package was actually mailed to themselves and showed up a few days later.
‘What do I say to these kids?’
According to Zelazny, he then spoke to the clerk at the pharmacy, who called Canada…