Welcome Comfort
ISBN: 0399231692

The Story

Welcome Comfort Story
From Leah Polacco

Quintin Hamp, a Union City Elementary School custodian, one day overhears the students teasing the new kid for being "fat," a little boy named Welcome Comfort. Quintin, who intervenes, assures the orphaned Welcome, that someday his "substantial" size will "come in real handy." The two become quick friends, and as Welcome spends more and more time with Quintin and his wife Martha, he feels "part of a family at long last."
However when the holiday season approaches Welcome is left alone, as Quintin and Martha traditionally travel north on Christmas Eve. Upset because he has never known the joy of Christmas or the magic of Santa Claus, Welcome is reminded of Quintin’s words, "Believing is seein’." That night, the real Santa Claus awakens Welcome and invites him for a sleigh ride to deliver toys! What a wonderful, magical night for an ordinary boy from Union City, Michigan!
As the years pass, Welcome never forgets that special Christmas Eve, though a gold pin Santa had given him (and his proof of their marvelous adventure), turned up missing the next day. But Welcome marries and remains close friends with Martha and Quintin, whom he replaces as Superintendent of Maintenance at Union City Elementary School.
Then at last one Christmas Eve, Quintin invites Welcome and his wife Ruby Jean to travel north with he and Martha. A vacation, that that changes his life forever…
Welcome Comfort is an enchanting story, which not only teaches the importance of accepting others, but also, is a reminder of the power of "believing."

The Artwork

boy suprise tease

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Activity Ideas

Welcome Comfort Activity Ideas

Although "Welcome Comfort" is a charming tale about a boy who grows up to become Santa Claus, the story contains a very important message, Teasing is wrong! When you have finished reading the book to your students, have them form a circle on the classroom floor for the following discussion. The first part of the discussion covers the important topic of teasing, so it is important that the children are in an intimate location, so as to speak seriously about teasing, directly to one another. The activity ideas are incorporated into the discussion, so you will either be completing the exercises as you come to them, or handing out assignments as you go along.

Discussion Questions and Activity Ideas:

1. What does it mean to tease someone?

2. Why were the other children teasing Welcome? Encourage your students to look past the obvious answer of "Welcome was teased because he was overweight." Ask your students, "Why do we tease other people?" Maybe the children in the story teased Welcome because they didn't know him, felt threatened or intimidated because of their differences... Welcome was a foster child, etc. It may be difficult for certain ages of students to examine the psychological explanation for teasing, but regardless of age, encourage your students to discuss why teasing is wrong.

3. Why did Quintin want to help Welcome? Answers will vary. Maybe Quintin saw that Welcome had the potential to one day become Santa Claus. Maybe Quintin felt sorry for Welcome because he had been bounced from foster home to foster home. Regardless of the answers you receive, persuade your students toward examining the possibility that Quintin wanted to help Welcome because he believed teasing is wrong.

4. Why is teasing wrong?

5. How can we prevent teasing from occurring within our classroom and school? Circle the room and have each student list one, different way to prevent teasing. The possiblities are endless, so your students shouldn't have any problems thinking of different examples, however you may need to help them along if need be. Look for answers such as “get to know someone” or “compliment someone as opposed to insulting them.” Answers such as these will act as a lead in to the next discussion question (which couples as an activity idea).

6. Next, circle the room again and have each student compliment the person to their left. Encourage sincerity! If your students need a moment to think of something they really like about that person that is okay. It is better if they take the time to deliver a truthful compliment, rather than just saying something random and insincere to avoid the spotlight. If you have time, circle the room again and have each student compliment the person to their right.

7. When your students have finished delivering their compliments, have your class talk about what they liked hearing. Maybe a particular compliment was pleasing to a student. Find out why.

8. This week's Question of the Week is a challenge for children. Present the same challenge to your students for the week. Here it is: Although "Welcome Comfort" is a Christmas story, it doesn't matter what holidays you celebrate, or how... The message of the story is still the same! This is a season of love and kindness. This week, I want you to go out of your way to do or say at least one kind thing to someone else... It can be someone you know, like your mother or brother, or someone you don't know at all, such as another boy or girl in your school. Then report what you did. What did you say or do for someone? Who was it? How did your act of kindness affect that person?
For their act of kindness, instruct your students to pick someone other than the one or two people they complimented during the exercise of the previous discussion question. Also, suggest that they pick someone they don't know (although someone they do know is still acceptable). The idea of this activity, however, is to avoid teasing by making new friends, complimenting others, and being a friend by helping others. Pick a date later this week for your students to report the outcome of this activity and don't forget to have them submit their responses online!

9. Once you have delivered the assignment, return to your discussion. The previous assignment conveys the importance of the holiday, being one of love and kindness. Have your students discuss this with one another. What is the message of the season? Are Christmas and Hanukah holidays that center around gift giving and receiving, or is there a deeper meaning of love?

10. What does it mean to be a foster child, like Welcome in the story?

11. Are there children in the world that will not have a family this holiday season to share the spirit of love and kindness with?

12. As a class, how can we ensure that a child will have a better holiday?
There are many ways this can be done, and my challenge to you...our teachers...is to work with your students this season to brighten the holiday and touch the life of a child in your community, our country, or in our world. Here are some ways to make this happen:
Have your students collect money for a local charity, or nationwide charity such as the Salvation Army.
Arrange a visit to a local orphanage or collect money to donate.
Have each student bring in a toy or as a class collect money for a toy... Toys can be delivered to any Angel Tree location.
Hold a food drive in your classroom or school. Deliver the canned foods to a local orphanage or charity.
Have your students send holiday greeting cards to a local orphange, wishing a child there a happy holiday.
Sponsor a child through the Save the Children foundation. This of course, requires a lengthy commitment and each student would have to agree to about $1.00 each month to make this happen, but you would be in regular contact with your child, and would continue to help them throughout the year.
Through a local church or community center, find a family in your community who needs assistance this holiday, and as a class, raise money for a holiday dinner or toys for their children.

13. As a class, before you have agreed to a specific charity, discuss the idea of "seeing is believing" as presented in the story. Welcome didn't believe in Santa Claus at first because he had never seen him, when in fact, many children that have never seen Santa Claus still believe. The fact is, those children have seen and experienced the magic of Christmas, whereas Welcome, who didn't have a permanent home, had ever experienced that magic. As a class, talk about how spreading the message of love and kindness this holiday by helping another boy or girl experience the magic of the season, will help that child "believe."

14. Why is it important to believe in the magic of the season?

15. When the season is over, how can we ensure that the magic lasts? The answer is simple. By continuing to combine the ideas that through acts of kindness and friendship and through recognizing the good qualities of others as opposed to focusing on the bad we can stop teasing, as well as doing everything in our power to help those around us.

16. As a class, form a New Year's resolution to put an end to teasing by making the magic of the holiday season last through the school year.

Don't forget to test your students on the book "Welcome Comfort."

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