On Tuesday, students from our Junior and Senior Schools were recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals during the National Philanthropy Day Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Our Junior School was a finalist for the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 5-10, while members of the Senior School’s Break the Cycle of Local Poverty group were a finalist for the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 11-18. While neither group won their category, just being a finalist in two categories was an honour, and acknowledges that the work our students do to benefit the community does make a genuine impact.
At the Junior School we are interested in philanthropy because we want to help others and make a real a difference. Our school expects that each student is involved in all areas of leadership and service. We learn that every child can be a leader in the school.
Our school enjoys our “All Souped Up” event when we celebrate our 100th day of school and load all the cans of food that we collect onto the Mustard Seed truck.
An important part of our service program is when each class visits the seniors at the James Bay Care Home. We enjoy spending time there and classes have been visiting for the past six years. We play music, sing, read and play games with the seniors. All of the students like to see that we are making the seniors happy during our time there. It makes us happy too.
Our Grade 2 classes are in now in the middle of their annual gingerbread project and they baked thousands of gingerbread cookies to sell last week. They have chosen a local charity and they will be making food hampers for that charity. Also our Grade 5 classes are getting ready to fill stockings for children in Victoria to receive at Christmastime.
One of our favourite service opportunities is raising money to buy a stable full of animals for families in Africa. We all do extra jobs around the house, like folding the laundry and washing dishes. This December we will all be involved in this project. It will be exciting to find out which new animals we are able to buy for the stable this year.
In our school, if a student comes up with an idea for service that connects to their learning, then they are given a chance to lead this service project. For example, last year some Grade 1 students led a “Nets for Malaria” project after they studied mosquitoes. They raised money to buy nets for children in affected areas. Even the youngest people can make a real difference in the world.
by Rebecca and Kasey, Grade 12
Break the Cycle is made up of 30-plus students who work together addressing local poverty by focusing on three main pillars: Education, Direct Action and Adopt Our Village.
Education is learning about the issues we are tackling, and spreading awareness within our school and community. Last November, we organized our own two-day “Youth Addressing Local Poverty” Conference. We had over 200 participants from all around BC at the conference learning about local poverty issues. Thirty local experts such as Rev. Al Tysick (from the Dandelion Society), MLA Andrew Weaver and keynote speakers Shane Koyczan (spoken word poet) and Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger shared ideas, listened and created possible solutions with the students.
For us, Direct Action is engaging through direct service with the people who are dealing with the issues we are tackling. This includes serving chili to the less fortunate on cold winter afternoons downtown as well as helping out at the soup kitchen at Our Place.
Adopt Our Village is a concept in which we use grants from foundations or fundraising to support local organizations that are giving a hand up rather than just a hand out. For example, last year, through our work with the Toskan Casale Foundation and Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth programs, we were able to distribute $7,500 worth of grants to Extreme Outreach, the Rainbow Kitchen and the Dandelion Society. Last June, we participated in an event called Canstruction, where we built a 10’x 10’x 8’ artistic sculpture out of cans. After they were displayed in Mayfair Mall for a week, all of the 3,000-plus cans were donated to the Mustard Seed.
We’re all so motivated to continue with this work because of the change in our community. Hopefully in 10 years’ time when we look back at Victoria it will be a completely changed place because of our positive impacts.
And congratulations to the Chwyl family (Ed, Mary, Brendan and Christina), the latter two being SMUS alumni, for winning the Generosity of Spirit Award, sponsored by the United Way, for their long list of incredible contributions in time, resources and expertise to make a difference in the Greater Victoria community.
Thank you to the Association of Fundraising Professionals for sponsoring the National Philanthropy Day Awards. Thank you to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island for sponsoring the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 5-10 category, and to TELUS for sponsoring the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 11-18 category.