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Mitten Tree warms hands and hearts at Paramount Charter Academy | Community Spirit

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Mitten Tree warms hands and hearts at Paramount Charter Academy
Mitten Tree warms hands and hearts at Paramount Charter Academy

KALAMAZOO, Mich.The Christmas tree in the kindergarten hallway of Paramount Charter Academy is not decorated with lights, ornaments, or tinsel; instead, it is adorned with mittens to donate to struggling children in the area.

The mitten tree has been a staple at Paramount for the past 16 years. It was started by kindergarten teacher Annelies Baker after she read the book “The Mitten Tree” by Candace Christiansen.

“I thought it would be a wonderful service project that five and six-year-old children could understand and relate to,” said Baker. “The children are encouraged to do extra chores around the house to earn money so they can buy mittens, a hat, or scarf for the tree.”

Along with teaching the children about gratitude, one of the virtues the school promotes, the mitten tree provides a wonderful math lesson. Right before winter break, the students will estimate how many mittens are on the tree. Then they will count and sort the mittens, hats and scarfs to see how close they were to their estimates.

With donations from students, parents and staff, Baker says they usually collect about 200 items each year. She will send some of the items home with Paramount students in need and donate the rest to several nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo.

Paramount Charter Academy is a tuition-free public charter school serving students in young 5s through eighth grade.