The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan Mar. 11 attracted worldwide attention and fundraising initiatives to help the country get back on its feet. Locally, the Waterloo Region District School Board has taken a lead in raising awareness among its students and staff. From Mar. 28 to Apr. 4, there was a board-wide program to raise funds for the beleaguered nation, and Elmira District Secondary School made it a priority to ensure its students were aware of the destruction on the other side of the globe.
Donations for the “Help For Japan – Because We Care” campaign were collected across the school board, and students and staff at EDSS were equal to the task, collecting more than $1,700 that will be sent to the Red Cross and the Mennonite Central Committee – a result that has those involved at the school very excited.
“You multiply that by all the different sites in the board, it should be considerable,” said Doug McKlusky, a vice-principal at EDSS. “I know they raised over $100,000 for Haiti last year throughout the board, which is considerable.
“It’s nice to see the kids step up to do these things,” he added.
It was announced last week that $95,000 was collected across 199 schools in the board.
At EDSS, funds were collected through the school’s patented S.O.C.K. (Students On a Caring Kick) program, which sends students from the leadership class and other representatives from each grade around the school with woolen work socks to collect any spare change that their peers might be willing to part with.
The school also donated its share of the cafeteria sales on Apr. 1 to the campaign. Every day the school receives 20 per cent of sales from JC Vending, which McKlusky said added between $100 and $200 dollars to the fundraiser.
The awareness campaign certainly paid off, and although the “Help For Japan” campaign has officially ended, students Holly Boyne and Jessica Ruprecht decided they wanted to do more.
A couple of weeks ago they approached Ryan Gingerich, teacher of the leadership class at EDSS, to devise another fundraising possibility.
“We wanted to do something that everyone in our school could participate in so they could feel like they have a voice with a current global issue,” said Boyne, who later came up with the idea of selling rubber bracelets, much like the yellow Livestrong bracelets developed by Lance Armstrong for cancer awareness. Unlike the familiar bright yellow, however, their bracelets would be red with “Help For Japan” printed in white – the colours of the Japanese flag.
“The whole idea with the wrist bands is so that people could buy something that would donate money and also raise awareness by wearing their wrist bands,” continued Boyne.
The wristbands arrived at the school last Tuesday and were sold to students and staff during the lunch periods for $2 each. They had sold about 250 bands by the end of the day on Wednesday, and are planning on selling them at St. Jacobs Public School and other Elmira-area schools as well.
“The wristbands are sort of our second-wave of fundraising, if you will,” explained Gingerich. “The leadership class was involved with running the S.O.C.K. program, and then Holly and Jess’ idea is going to be phase two.”
The early response has been tremendous, Gingerich said, adding that they hope to sell about 500 before the fundraiser ends. They would like to get the bracelets out into local Elmira shops as well in an effort to spread as much awareness as possible.
“We have a great community at our school, and I think that everybody wants to give to causes that need it,” said Ruprecht.