Dozens of young children enrolled at First Steps Preschool are learning the value of giving this holiday season.
The 63 students at the preschool hand-made special hot cocoa mixes last week that they'll soon be delivering to family and friends in exchange for donations to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.
"A lot of our kids come from families that don't have a lot, but what they do have are big hearts and a desire to help others," said Carrie Singer, the co-owner of the preschool at 104 McCoy St.
Last week, about 15 children enrolled in First Steps' pre-K program spent a few hours preparing the gifts by filling plastic sleeves with their cocoa mix and topping them off with mini-marshmallows and crushed peppermint candy.
"When people get to a certain age they have to go to the doctor to see if everything is ok," teacher Paula Gomez explained to the children, all between the ages of 3 and 5. "Sometimes, they aren't ok, and they need extra help. What we're doing today will help those people get that help and make them feel better."
Once the cocoa mixes were prepared, the preschool's 1- and 2-year-olds added festive ribbons. Later, the school aged children enrolled in First Steps' daycare program handed out the finished products to the students' family and friends, each of whom donated $2 or less in exchange for the handmade gifts.
Singer said she expects the project would raise close to $500 for the breast cancer coalition.
"Because money is an issue for many of our families, we've told them that any contribution is appreciated," she said. "A lot of our parents and grandparents are really excited and been calling to ask when they can come pick them up."
Singer said the idea for the project began around Thanksgiving after the mother of a teacher at the preschool was diagnosed with cancer.
"We were asking the children what they were thankful for and talking amongst ourselves about how the children could help out people in the community," she said. "Because of what our teacher's family was going through, and given that it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it just made sense to tie them together."
Singer said the importance of community involvement is something the preschool has tried to impart to its students since she and business partner Christina Allen purchased the First Steps preschools in Milford and Lincoln in 2010.
"I think kids learn to appreciate that kind of thing more when you start teaching it at an early age," she said. "They love doing projects like this and we're just happy to help out however we can."
For more information about First Steps or to order a hot cocoa mix, please call Singer at 302-424-4470.