COCONUT CREEK, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida teacher has worked on a lesson plan he will be using thousands of miles across the Atlantic ocean. He’s on a mission to help Ukrainian children, who were forced from their homes, and he is not going empty handed.

Messages of hope are headed to Poland.

“To whoever gets this, keep pushing on. You’ll get through this. You are strong,” said Jim Gard, as he read a letter.

Gard, a math teacher in Coconut Creek, has packed the letters in his suitcase as he leaves for Warsaw this week to teach English to Ukrainian refugees, children who’ve fled a war zone.

“I couldn’t even imagine, there’s no words to imagine what they’ve gone through,” said Gard. “Their entire lives have been destroyed, their neighborhoods, towns, cities are gone.”

As families rebuild their lives and start homes in new places, learning a new language is just one of the many challenges they face.

Gard has been teaching for more than 40 years, most recently at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek. Students helped plan his trip as many wrote personal messages that he will hand deliver. It’s one of the things he’s looking forward to most.

“That’s probably the most I’m looking forward too,” said Gard.

He has hundreds of messages that were written by his students for peers they’ve never met.

One of the letters read: “It’s okay and normal to be afraid. Fear is part of being human, don’t ever let your fear hold you back from what you want out of life. You can accomplish anything and everything.”

He’s also been selling shirts to raise money for families. He’ll have more than $2,000 to share.

“And we’re going to give that money to the Ukrainian families as we see them,” said Gard.

Most of what he’s taking with him will be given away, as it is hard to imagine anything more powerful than education and messages of hope.

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