Following the deadly storms and tornadoes on Dec. 10, students and faculty from Lorne Park Elementary School in Canada got together to craft cards and letters of encouragement for families in Princeton.

“I think sometimes children teach us — as adults — how we should be,” said Mary Rachel Reil, whose daughter, Annabelle, attends Lorne Park Elementary. “They teach you lessons that you didn’t even know you needed.

“To know that children that young possess compassion gives us hope for the future.”

Reil is from Princeton. She moved to Canada eight years ago.

Reil and her mother, Anna Ray, call Princeton their hometown. They both served the Caldwell County School District. Ray currently sits on the school board and is entering her second term. Reil was a teacher.

“I am very proud of our school system,” Ray said.

She taught for 16 years and was a librarian for 12.

The act of kindness initiated by Lorne Park Elementary School students, faculty, and administration offered comfort and confidence during uncertainty, Ray said.

“This small act of making and sending cards of encouragement has brought many smiles — and some tears — to the faces of so many people already and likely, will bring more,” Ray said.

She and other high school teachers attempted to console Marshall County High School two years ago after the school shooting there.

“When Marshall County lost two students in a school shooting a few years ago, I was part of a group of local high school teachers who went to Marshall County High before Valentine’s Day and taped hearts of encouragement on all the lockers in the high school,” Ray said. “It was a small thing to do, but it hopefully showed those teens that Caldwell County High School cared.”

Reil’s daughter, Annabelle, attends kindergarten at Lorne Park Elementary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Although they live in Canada — some 750 miles away from Princeton — Reil said they were met with concern and compassion following the natural disaster in December.

Arlene Murphy, Annabelle’s teacher, said the students enjoyed making the connection with Annabelle’s family and the Princeton community after watching news coverage and looking at pictures of the tornado’s aftermath.

“They felt proud to help someone else,” Murphy said. “They’re very young and impressionable, and if we can instill those values early, it’s always a good thing.”

The students were engaged and tried their best to put their hearts and minds into what they were making, Murphy said.

Murphy added it took two weeks to make the cards.