Small school, big bucks

The Student School raises $14,000 for the needy over the holiday season

The Student School may be small, with only 160 students, but that didn’t stop them from making a big charitable contribution by raising more than $14,000 for needy Torontonians this holiday season.

The Student School is a small Toronto District School Board institution that offers grade 11 and 12 classes and places an emphasis on activism. It shares a building with Western Technical Commercial School.

The money was raised via public auction, with donated items such as a deluxe night for two at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, clothing, gift certificates and other items such as office furniture.

The money goes toward buying essential items such as nightwear, socks, toiletries, food, as well as a Christmas gift, for five Toronto-based youth and women shelters. The sum is the largest the school has raised in the event’s 24-year history.

Teacher Mark Fischer said the event has grown tremendously from when they were only raising around $2,000 to $3,000 annually. This year, he noted that only about $8,000 was really needed, but students wanted to surpass a previous record of about $12,000.

“The energy of the young people means it kind of takes a life born of their direction,” he said.

To Fischer, the event aligns perfectly with the school’s mandate to engage youth on social and environmental issues.

“When we do fundraising … We’re not doing it for our new backboards or band trips,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is understand issues, and not only understand them, but do something about them.”

Grade 12 student Karah Sullivan decided to volunteer because she recognizes the holiday season can be an especially difficult time for women and youth living in shelters.

“Around Christmas the stresses go up and we find a lot of the time people are running to shelters and they’re not leaving with anything but their kid and what’s on their back,” she said. “It’s a really good experience to be able to lend a hand to somebody that really doesn’t get much help other than that.”

The shelters include the Salvation Army on Keele Street. Fischer said it’s a good example of students giving back to the local community.

“The nature of our school is that we’re looking to have an impact on our community,” he said.

Following months of fundraising, the event culminates with the students being able to see whom they’re helping by handing out more than 200 gift bags directly to the shelters.

“It’s really fulfilling, especially around Christmas, to give rather than receive,” Sullivan said. “For people to lend a helping hand to someone, without them even having asked for it, it shows there’s still some good in the world, you know?”

About this article:

By: Omar Mosleh
Posted: Jan 5 2012 5:50 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto