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IRVINE : Toy Drive a Lesson in Sharing

Ben Wolf beat a lively rhythm on a drum Monday while his son and two nephews danced with Westwood Basics Plus Elementary School students to dramatize a story about rabbits.

Wolf, who is from the Kiowa Tribe in Oklahoma, explained to Westwood students that a chief sang to the rabbits long ago, and the children keep the story alive by mimicking the motions of frisky bunnies.

“The little kids in the tribe do this dance for four to eight hours straight during the summertime,” he said.

The presentation was part of broader lesson, Westwood teachers said.

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“We do this every year,” said fifth-grade teacher Grace Cecchini, who organizes Westwood’s annual toy drive for needy Native American children. For the fifth year, students are contributing gifts to be delivered to reservations across the nation.

Each child is encouraged to choose something that a youngster his or her own age would like, Cecchini said. This year’s collection date is Nov. 28.

The program’s aim is to promote understanding, compassion and appreciation of one’s blessings, Cecchini said. “The children give gifts from the heart.”

Wolf said that all gifts are much appreciated. “We have one of the poorest health services in the world, and we have a lot of poverty,” he said.

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