Columneetza students gathered on Thursday, Nov. 9, to hang toques and mittens on trees as part of the Share The Warmth campaign, sending cozy items to people in need.
The school-driven initiative by Columneetza Cares launched this year and aims to create positive change in neighbourhoods, as well as create social responsibility and awareness with youth, said John Sheppard, a teacher at Columneetza.
“We believe that the spirit of giving and supporting one another is what makes our community strong.”
This year, the students focused on keeping community members warm during the winter months. The initiative was supported by city council and drew donations from local businesses who provided winter items for children and adults. Students also knocked on doors asking for donations.
What started as a goal of 500 items quickly increased to 1,000, with students eager to help. The original idea was to collect toques and mittens; however, students were concerned that wasn’t enough to keep people warm and expanded the initiative to include other winter items. More than 1,700 items were collected, including over 900 mittens and toques and over 700 boots, snow pants, coats and scarves.
Columneetza Cares was able to donate 74 brand-new winter items to the Women’s Contact Society for children ages zero to five, something the society was in need of. Donations are still being distributed to other local non-profits, with donations still coming in.
Sheppard said every class participated, and there was even some friendly competition by awarding the top two classes who collected the most donations with an upcoming trip to the bowling alley and pizza party on Nov. 23. There was a tie, though, and so three classes will be able to celebrate. Part of the competition included students blowing ping-pong balls down the hallway, and whoever got the ball into a cup first would win a bunch of items for their class.
On Nov. 9, students headed to city hall, where they hung around 30 mittens and toques on trees for people to come collect in Herb Gardner Park below. Shortly later, they witnessed people in need taking some of the cozy items.
“The kids were pretty excited to see that,” Sheppard said.