The atmosphere at Sacred Heart School on Tuesday was electric as students handed off a big cheque to a Halifax women's shelter.

Bryony House — a shelter for abused women in Halifax — received a donation of $5,000 thanks to a group of students who took a vested interest through a school project.

Gwyneth Fountain is one of the students who gets to hand the money over. 

"When you're studying and learning about abuse, you know it exists, but it doesn't feel real. When you're there, and see people going through this, everything changes," Fountain said.

Michaela Hammond and Brenna Noble rounded out the team of grade nine students, who spent months learning about Bryony House by visiting the centre in person.

"I think what I'm going to take away is how many pressing issues there are in our community that are being ignored," said Noble

"It left an amazing impression on me. I really learned something," Hammond added.

The strongest case 

The Toronto-based Toskan Casale Foundation provided the funds to the Youth Philanthropy Initiative. Sacred Heart is the only school in Nova Scotia that participates in the initiative. 

Five teams of Sacred Heart students were charged with identifying a social issue in the city. For the team that makes the strongest case, $5,000 is awarded to that charity. 

Sheila Davis and Nancy MacLeod work at Bryony House. When the winning team of students called her, cameras were rolling for her reaction. 

"We were so excited. It's a great opportunity for these girls and for us to have money to continue the work that we're doing," Davis said.

While the shelter gained an unexpected boost in funding, the students gained priceless insight when it comes to learning about social issues. 

Bryony House says they don't know how they'll use the money yet, but that it will help support existing programs.