Taking part in last week’s Skills Canada regional competition, the carpentry team from EDSS wasn’t just taking part in an academic exercise, adding a little community good into the mix.
The dual-purpose event saw students compete in pairs to build planter boxes out of donated materials to be given to the Mennonite Central Committee as a fundraiser to support the agency’s relief work.
“We have always tried to have some kind of community connection with Skills Canada,” said teacher Randy Dyck. “We really feel like the skills that we have and the ability we have to reach out to the community at large in some fashion, provide that kind of opportunity for the young people to be involved.”
Local business sponsors assisted in funding the project, as well as in the actual project challenge during the day. Mar-span from Drayton and Frey Building Contractors in Hawkesville donated materials for the project, Menno S. Martin Contractor of St. Jacobs provided a skilled judge for the competition, and MennoHomes helped to coordinate the donation.
“We think it’s really good for the kids to have the hands-on work and then to realize that you can do something for the broader community, and years from now they will say, ‘remember when we did that and built it for this agency and this organization?’ and whatnot. And we think that’s something great to be a part of,” said Dan Driedger, executive director of MennoHomes.
Each of the community partners detailed exactly why they find it important to give back to the community, but it was clear that supporting and encouraging youth in the trades was at the forefront.
“Anything we can do as a company to promote skilled craftsman and trades, we are all about that. Certainly, to have the finished product to go to MennoHomes that speaks to us as a company helping out another organization and encouraging and empowering kids to do that,” said Ryan Martin, president of Frey Building Contractors.
“We support anything in the building programs, want to encourage that and want to see young people grow in the trades. So for us, we are happy to do it and, again, a good cause to donate the planters too – it’s something that we feel is very worth doing,” added Art Janzen owner of Menno S. Martin Contractor Ltd.
As for the students who participated, it was clear that the intention of providing a vessel for youth to give back to the community really sunk in with them. Brendan Brubacher and Matthew Radler earned silver building their planter boxes.
“We are having fun doing something that we enjoy and it is also going to a great cause, so win-win situation here,” said Radler.
The planter boxes will be sold at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale May 25-26.