CLEARWATER — It all started in April with the letter C.
Fatima Talbird, a prekindergarten instructor for ages 4 and 5, said teachers were helping students at Sugar 'N Spice Learning Center learn words that start with C, like "cat" and "care."
But in the aftermath of the January earthquake in Haiti, they decided to expand on their lesson.
"I guess because of the earthquake, we were gathering our words and we were talking about caring. And it led to children helping children, and we talked about what they could do," Talbird said.
A letter went home to parents, asking them to send in $1 each, so their children could mail the money along with cards and writing supplies to orphans at Limbe Academy in Haiti.
The school chose that orphanage because Talbird knows a minister who travels to Haiti and was familiar with the organization's dire need.
Soon after the mailing, pictures arrived, showing smiling children at an outdoor school, holding up the students' cards. So this holiday season, the preschool's staff and children wanted to do more.
That's where another C word came in: cookies.
Students baked and decorated Christmas cookies for parents to purchase. The money will go to their Children Helping Children fund, which directly benefits those orphans.
"Children all over the world are just like us, therefore we can share," Talbird said.
Donations from Sugar and Spice aren't breaking any records. Most of the children are on government assistance with Coordinated Child Care.
But teachers say it's a lesson measured by direct connections, not dollars.
"We wanted it to be more personal for the children, more one-on-one so they see the money goes directly from them to the children in the orphanage," said instructor Meaghan Maxwell, who teaches 3-year-olds.
"When you do send money to a large organization, it's hard to understand what type of relief it's helping. It makes everyone feel like you're actually doing something good for children in need."
Talbird said the children, even at 3 and 4 years old, are learning a valuable lesson about loving others.
"It will spread out to other people and on to all mankind if we start young enough," Talbird said.
Jieva Johnson, 4, said she saw the pictures of the orphans and realized something.
"They look like they have nothing … so we can share our cookies," she said.
Sinaya Johnson, 4, agreed.
"I have a better life. I have a house. If it rains (in Haiti,) you have to build a tent."