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Monday, August 19, 2019

There’s definitely a WE in Wellesley

Group of school kids in the village put community first as part of the WE Team at Wellesley PS

It is an often-heard lament that the youth of today, living in a world of smartphones and social media, are drifting away from their local communities and one another. And there may be some truth to that. But proving sentiment wrong were the kids on the Wellesley Public School’s WE Team, who led a community-wide food and clothing drive just in time for the winter holidays.
The Wellesley contingent was just one of many WE Teams operating in schools across the township, with an eye to local and global community activism.
“We just wanted to raise stuff for people who don’t have everything that they needed,” explained Wesley, a member of the school’s WE Team. “So winter attire and food.”
The WE Team, a volunteer group of students Grades 6 to 8, led the organizing effort for the fundraiser, which brought in boxes-worth of food supplies and warm clothing from the wider school and community.
“We made announcements to raise awareness, and we also made posters,” added fellow student Jack. “And the posters talk about how you need all that stuff, and we made boxes to carry all of it.”
All the food collected will be going towards the Wilmot Family Resource Centre, which provides both emergency food support, as well as a regular lunch program for school-aged children in the community. The centre also runs a seasonal Christmas program, making the WE Team’s donations especially crucial at this time of year.
The centre provides services to the entirety of Wilmot and the southern half of Wellesley Township, meaning those donations will go to support low-income people living right in region.
The clothing, meanwhile, will be on standby for students at Forest Heights Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, to use during recess over the winter months.
The WE Team model typically alternates in its focus between local and global initiatives, and the recent food and clothing drive was the second project the Team had taken on this year. Just before this was the Safe Haven project, while in previous years the team has taken on projects like the WE organization’s Rafikis campaign (Rafikis being the Swahili word for friend) to support the work of Kenyan artists overseas.
“Safe Haven is like a youth service for kids who are homeless or there’s something troubling going on at home,” explained Cadence.
“So we did a fundraiser for toiletries and water bottles and lunch pails to help out kids in our grade. And it’s from 12 to 18, so we just wanted to help out kids that don’t go to our school, that don’t have a home to go home to.”
“I think it was two years ago we did a milk bag project where everybody in the school brought in milk bags,” added Leah. “And we figured out a way to weave them into mats for people in countries who don’t have anywhere to sleep. So we did that, and it took about, I think like 400 milk bags to make a mat.”
The team is now on hiatus until the new year, when they’ll be looking for a new project to take on. Though one hasn’t been selected yet, the kids are encouraging more of their fellow students to join the effort.
“We as the WE Team, you feel good about yourself, and you help other people,” noted Emily.
“It’s just, it’s very satisfying to see all the stuff we raised, and know that it only takes like 20 people to make that big of a difference,” said Cadence. “And that’s definitely going to people who really need it.”
“We have such an amazing community,” added teacher Joe Donofrio, who assists the team in their efforts along with fellow teacher Laura Bauer. “And anytime we take on a charitable project, they respond in spades.”

Faisal Ali
Faisal Alihttps://observerxtra.com
Faisal Ali is a Reporter/Photographer at The Observer.

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