Friday, December 18th, 2020
JVH students gathered well over $5000 dollars for our Local Food Hub this year!
We couldn’t be prouder of our students and the dedication of our Youth and Family Worker Marlene Thiessen with the support of our Leadership teacher Cam Zuk.
JVH has been involved in the Christmas Hamper Fundraiser for about 20 years. It is a simple idea. The students sit at a table in downtown Kaslo, greeting our community and collecting funds to help create Christmas hampers for those in need in our community, serving an area from Ainsworth to north of Meadow Creek.
The fundraiser started with an idea from Mr. Patience, a teacher in the Alternate Program, which originally operated from a location in downtown Kaslo. Back then the fundraiser was called “The Canned Food Quest” and from the classroom window the students could be seen sitting out at the table across the street by the grocery store. They took half hour shifts, filling the days for two weeks before the school’s Christmas break. At first the students found it a little hard to take that seat, but over time they warmed to the idea, and found that being friendly was more productive. It wasn’t uncommon for several of our students to share that their families were included in the recipients of these Christmas hampers. This made the fundraiser personal and helped the students owned it.
In those first years the hampers were organized by Theresa May at her sandwich shop down the street, in conjunction with the Salvation Army in Nelson. Theresa was always kind and supportive of the students and started the tradition of offering each student a hot chocolate after their shift. For several years the students also collected Turkey Bucks, which was a promotion by IGA. Theresa would include these turkeys in the hampers. In those days the students also collected a sizable amount of food items, which were displayed in the classroom’s window, then loaded back down the stairs and brought over to Theresa’s when we were done collecting. Toys also made their way into the collection.
Eventually our local North Kootenay Lake Community Services Society took the project over, and the hampers were arranged from the Food Hub, with the Alternate School students still collecting, and still outside the grocery store, which became the Front Street Market, and still offering each student a hot chocolate after their shift, and access to outside plug-in for their heater!
When the Alternate program was relocated to the main JVH school, the fundraiser expanded to include the entire high school, including the Student Parliament. This year, as the Student Parliament looked ahead at projects around poverty, Mr. Zuk, the Student Leadership Facilitator, suggested the students look at this fundraiser. Kenya Blouin, the Social Justice Coordinator, and Kepler Zuk, the Treasurer, moved forward with the idea, with Kenya organizing a theme month where she researched the topic of poverty and presented her findings to the high school. This was followed by a 24 hour event, where students learned more in depth about poverty, and what it felt like to live on $2.50 for food for a day. The next morning Kepler and the students toured the Food Hub and kicked off the Christmas Hamper fundraiser, which once again ran for the last two weeks of school before the Christmas break. Kepler organized the schedule, ensuring the slots were filled. Kenya commented that there were people in the community that were waiting for the students to be out there fundraising so they could contribute. The students are continuing to own this fundraiser.
Kepler shared “The Christmas Hamper Fundraiser is such a great cause. We connected our work around learning about poverty to action right in our community. Due to COVID-19, some of the extra-curricular activities that I would normally have been participating in didn't happen, so I ended up with more time on my hands than past years. I was able to organize the schedule etc. without having to worry too much about schoolwork. I give credit to Marlene Thiessen for helping me with details throughout the organization of the whole thing. Thank you so much. We have raised over $5000 for our community! That is an amazing record for the fundraiser. Especially during this year, all of these food hampers, I'm sure, will make many families' holiday season so much better. I'm super glad that the Christmas Hamper Fundraiser has done so well this year, and I hope that it does again next year."
Thanks to our amazingly supportive community, many families will have hampers and our Food Hub will have funds for lots of extras over these next few months.