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EDSS students offer up Café for Change in support of Syrian refugees

EDSS students offer up Café for Change in support of Syrian refugees

After scheduling difficulties and cancellations, the EDSS Youth In Action Club has finally set a date for their Café for Change.

Originally scheduled for an evening in September, secondary school support staff labour disputes put their plans on hold, until now. Now scheduled for March 8, the event has the goal of fundraising for the refugees that have come to the region from Syria – a cause that needs more funds all the time.

Charly Bax is one of the organizers of the Café for Change and a member of the Youth in Action Club and says the group thinks it is important to look outside of their school when coming up with ideas for fundraising.

“Since we have had a lot of refugees come the area, especially to St. Jacobs, we have had a lot of groups coming there, it is important for our community to reach out to those groups and welcome them into our community and to help them feel comfortable in their new environment, with help from people who live here and have been here,” she said after a planning meeting for the event.

The money is going to go to the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, a Kitchener-based organization that helps refugees get settled when they arrive by helping them find jobs, find a family doctor and much more.

For $10, guests get to experience the theatrical styling of Crossing Borders, a dance and drama group that travels the region with their multimedia performances, enabling newcomers to Canada, along with local residents, to share their stories while “working towards more inclusive environments.”

There will also be musical performances from EDSS art students and magic tricks, coming from students in the school’s drama department.

“It will be a lot of fun,” said Cassandra Tuffnail, one of the event’s organizers and member of the youth club. “We just want people to come out and support and welcome these refugees into our community, and of course, it will be fun. We have some treats, so you can enjoy some home baking and local talent.”

Supervising teacher Erin Thaler says it has been great watching the students put together this event, mostly on their own and with minimal guidance from staff.

“We try to be as hands off as possible, and really let them figure out what the things are that are involved in putting together a night like this. That is one of those enduring things that they will take beyond, even high school. How do you organize and how do you get people together and delegate tasks and work together for a good cause,” she said.

Bax agreed, adding that the project brings students closer together, as well.

“It builds teamwork and a lot of students’ leadership qualities, and strengthens the relationships between students. It also teaches students a lot of different skills like public speaking with our two emcees. The tech crew can use this as practice for the plays they put on at the school,” she said.

The event starts at 6 p.m. on Mar. 8 at EDSS. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 and tax receipts will be available for donations above $20.

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