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Meet the business-savvy Kamloops kids who are stepping up for Christmas Amalgamated

A new Kamloops business is starting to run like a well-oiled machine, so says the team behind the Elf-Paughs, now in its second year of operations. But they won’t be keeping any of their profits and their CEO isn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license.

“We learned it's harder than we thought, the business part,” said Grade 7 student and Elf-Paughs CEO, Karlota Toering.

Ms. Alpaugh’s Grade 6/7 class at Kamloops School of the Arts is hand making wreaths and ornaments to sell at Saturday’s Welcome Winter Block Party in downtown Kamloops and will be donating 100% of the profits to Christmas Amalgamated for the second year in a row.

Grade 6/7 students Karlota Toering, Izzy Leadbeater and Rowan Jensen.

The class of 23 is participating in Junior Achievement’s A Business of Our Own Program, through which they have built their company — the Elf-Paughs — from the ground up, designing and marketing their products and deciding where the profits will go.

It’s all about communication, said Izzy Leadbeater, who happens to be on the setup and merchandise team. There’s also departments for bookkeeping and sales, as any good business should have.

Leadbeater said the Elf-Paughs are much better at communicating this year and picking up the slack where help is needed.

“It's easier with the communication,” said the Grade 6 student.

"I’ve learned that it's not all fun and games. Sure, you get to do fun stuff, but it’s a group effort. Everyone has to contribute.”

Kamloops School of the Arts Grade 6 student Izzy Leadbeater.

Kamloops School of the Arts Grade 7 students Kelly Deis and Lena Heinen.

The class managed to raise $350 for Christmas Amalgamated last year, filling Christmas hampers for eight families in need and donating the extra $100 to the non-profit organization.

Toering said the students decided to donate their profits to charity because giving is more fun than getting.

“We really just want to help people out and make them happy this Christmas,” she said.

This year their products are all made from materials they found outside, from branches to pinecones. They’ve learned all about business loans and realized it’s better to cut down on costs to maximize their profits.

Grade 7 student Sophie McLean is enjoying learning about how much money goes into making products and selling them, while Toering said she now understands what it takes to run a Walmart or Costco.

They've decided to sell their ornaments for $2 to $4, the wreaths for $7 to $10 and the centrepieces for $10 to $15. Knowing they put so much hard work into every piece is also making the decorations that much more valuable, because you really can’t put a price on something made with love.

“Making it and knowing it’s going to charity, it makes your heart warm inside,” said Grade 7 student Nakaii Shilleto-Jones, who helps head up the sales team.

“Giving it to charity is the best thing we could do,” he said.

Jennica Alpaugh said it’s exciting to see her students be so passionate about a project whose end goal has nothing to do with them, "to think outside themselves and show kindness to people around them."

She said a woman in a grocery store overheard her talking about the project last year and donated enough money to fund three Christmas hampers, which proved to the students the effect they could have.

“They got to see that ripple of kindness,” Alpaugh said. “People started to hop on the kindness train.”

The Elf-Paughs will be selling their decorations at tomorrow’s Welcome Winter Block Party in downtown Kamloops. The event runs noon to 6 p.m. between Third and Fourth Avenues on Victoria Street.

Alpaugh said if there are decorations left after the sale, they will have a booth at the school’s annual Christmas concert on December 21st.

“We think everyone deserves a good Christmas,” said Shilleto-Jones. “Hopefully we make enough money to make a difference.”

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