Kitchener high school caps 12 days with big gift to local family

Students and staff at public schools across Waterloo region donated food, toys, sports equipment and thousands of dollars to various charities as party of holiday initiatives.

'It's about giving back to the community and sharing in that time of need,' student Megan Fish says

Waterloo Collegiate Institute students (from left) Sarah Deckert, Tori Meklensek, Megan Fish and Mackie Harper stand with their collection of donations. (Waterloo Region District School Board)

Students at Huron Heights Secondary School gave a Kitchener family $7,200 and a $1,000 gift card to Great Wolf Lodge as an early Christmas gift.

Kitchener's Colleen and Anthony Lessard and their five children received the gift Friday morning during a special assembly.

The money will go toward helping the family cover medical expenses for their daughter, who recently underwent surgery to reduce her seizures from a brain injury.

The gift to the family was the last in a series events the Waterloo Region District School Board called the 12 Days of Giving.

Alana Russell, the board's chief communications officer, said many of the student-led initiatives during December bring together the students and the community.

"It's just been a beautiful experience. It's something we hope to highlight again every year," she said.

Day 1: Winter greeting card fundraiser

Using winter art created by students, 12 cards were sold in a pack to raise money for the Waterloo Education Foundation Inc. Packs can still be purchased from the school board's office.

Day 2: Laurelwood Public School's Week of Giving

Students raised $5,619 for the Kitchener Conestoga Rotary Club turkey drive, in partnership with House of Friendship.

As well, they learned about social responsibility and empathy throughout the week by collecting items for Anselma House, St. Monica House, YMCA's Newcomer Support and Bright Lights programs, One ROOF, House of Friendship, Ray of Hope, and The Foodbank of Waterloo Region.

Day 3: Gathering with gratitude at Keatsway Public School

Students and staff made a hot turkey lunch for their first Gratitude Dinner, enjoyed by the school community.

The canned and boxed items used for the meal were donated by parents while teachers and staff bought the turkeys and potatoes and cooked it all.

Day 4: Celebrating a decade of giving with learning services staff

Throughout the year, consultants in the learning services department made weekly donations as part of a "dress-down Friday fund."

The contributions went to a variety of causes in the community. During the holidays, more than $300 was raised for Family and Children's Services Support Program to support three youth.

Day 5: Students and firefighters team up

Students at Manchester Public School created a special campaign to help with the Cambridge Firefighters' Basketfund, which collects food and toys for families in need. The school was able to collect more than 30 full boxes of non-perishable food.

Day 6: Breslau Public School supports Toy Mountain

Ms. White's 6A class and Mr. Wade's student leadership club ran a toy drive, which collected more than 800 items, including toys, puzzles, games, gift cards and even two bicycles.

Day 7: Brigadoon's Superseasonal Sale to support Sunbeam Lodge

Families donated gently used household items, toys and books, then students priced them with the most expensive items going for $3, and students got to shop in the gym.

The sale raised $2,213.65 for Sunbeam Lodge, a residential facility in Kitchener for medically fragile young people.

Day 8: Angel tree at Elmira District Secondary School

Students collected donations to support the Woolwich Community Services Christmas Goodwill program by collecting items such as books, toys, games and sports equipment, all of which were listed on the angel tree.

Students could also donate $2, and $372 was collected to buy gift cards.

Day 9: KCI dinner tradition

Students at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School put on a free holiday feast for members of the greater school community who struggle to make ends meet.

More than 500 hot meals were served, and students worked with St. John's Kitchen and St. Mark's Lutheran Church to hand out tickets.

Day 10: Clemens Mill annual Aerobithon

Students were dressed in holiday colours as they worked out and danced to support the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank.

The food bank gave the school profiles of 15 families in need and each classroom supported a family by donating items on a wish list, or making a donation with a gift card or cash. The school filled 22 bins with items and donated $1,400 to help the families.

Day 11: The Holidays are for Helping campaign

Students at Waterloo Collegiate Institute worked for a month to collect $7,250 worth of items for Monica Place and Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Megan Fish is a Grade 12 student director of the student life council.

"It's about giving back to the community and sharing in that time of need," she said on the school board's blog.

Day 12: Huron Heights SS donation to family

A Kitchener family received $7,200 and a $1,000 gift card to Great Wolf Lodge.


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