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'It was just adorable': Grade 1 students surprise departing firefighters with special goodbye gifts


After two weeks of battling wildfires in Alberta, some Atlantic Canada firefighters were sent homes with a surprise Saturday.

An Edmonton Grade 1 class was at the Edmonton International Airport Saturday to give a crew of wildland firefighters handmade thank-you cards and wish them well on their way back to New Brunswick.

"That was definitely a surprise, a pleasant surprise," said firefighter Owen Cull. "I think that's really great.

"I think it's really good that kids understand what's going on, that there's people out there really working hard to keep others safe and put forest fires out."

The idea to create the cards came from Melissa Mackey and her daughter Patience.

"We see how much the firefighters have been pouring in their hearts, flying in from towns across Canada and we thought, how can we say thank you to these guys?" Mackey said.

Patience's Grade 1 class was happy to help and the kids whipped up around 50 cards, each with a special message of appreciation from the kids.

"The creativity from the kids in every single card, and all the little things they said, it was just adorable," Mackey said.

The class surprised the crew, who spent the last few weeks in northern Alberta battling the out-of-control 74,000-hectare fire that forced the evacuation of Fox Lake and destroyed dozens of homes.

"It was definitely an exciting experience, definitely some intense moments. But worth all the time," Cull said. "We really enjoyed our time here."

For many of them, including Cull, it was the first visit to Alberta and Mackey said she wanted to make it a trip they won't forget.

"When we gave them to the firefighters this morning, the comments that we were hearing from them was like, 'Wow, this was our first time in Alberta and what a great experience. We have never had anybody make up thank-you cards,'" she added. "It's amazing."

The act of kindness is also a teaching moment, Mackey said, and she hopes it helps the kids see the importance of kindness and gratitude.

"A token of appreciation, call it a random act of kindness, it goes a long way and we all know that we need more kindness in this world," she added."To really experience empathy and compassion and what it actually takes, I think these are very important lessons for Grade 1 kids to learn."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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