When looked at closely, we as a Collingwood community have been trying to help the less fortunate through many clubs and events which host many fundraising and charity drives throughout the year. However, neither the staff nor the students of Collingwood School ever actually get to see those who are desperately in need of every little thing we are donating, no matter how small. Last year, Round Square decided to change things so the students would have more interaction with those who they were helping. The first step of improvement was when they started asking for students to volunteer to hand out the toys and food being donated to students at Thunderbird Elementary, a school located in Downtown East Side with many impoverished children. The attempt to change things was really showing itself by the end of last year when a Round Square member, Eve Parry, organized another Round Square initiative encouraging one on one interaction called the Collingwood Sleep Out. The event was open to all Collingwood students as we as a whole are a Round Square School. Spectacularly, this one event that opened the eyes of many to the harsh truth of poverty added many to the Round Square Club, as the participants were just starting to realize that many in this same luxurious city that we live in, are in need of the simplest necessities that we don’t even consider and feel grateful for.
The eye-opening Collingwood Sleep Out Eve coordinated with the help of Ms. Weiss and Ms. Gold, consisted of a bottle drive, sandwich drive, and a mini sleep out. The money earned from the bottle drive was donated to Covenant House, a shelter for Vancouver’s street youth located in the Downtown Eastside. The sandwiches made throughout the sandwich drive were also then taken down to a park by East Hastings street, which were then handed out by students who handed out bags full of sandwiches, cookies, and juice. They also handed out shampoo, lotion, and soap collected through Project Refresh, led by Jordan Mann. After all that, the student volunteers came back to Collingwood and slept with only sleeping bags and cardboard pieces on the hard stones outside the school throughout the cold night, to get a glimpse of what those who they had met that day had to constantly endure. At the end, almost all of those who partook in the event admitted that they had no idea that many looking at the same sky and stars at night had nowhere to go to, while they were sleeping in their comfy warm beds.
The mini experiences last year prompted many students to actually go out and meet the people who they are helping, and actually see the results of their hard work with their own eyes. They believe that not only would that make the people in need feel valued, but it would also show how much every single action one individual makes can help another person or community. The thought of first hand helping and being there in person to see those in need has now become a goal for the school, specifically Round Square members who are coming up with more initiatives that would allow the students to truly connect with the underprivileged. Throughout their planning, they have come to the conclusion that these experiences would enhance their abilities to empathize as well as show them how fortunate they are.
One of the upcoming events is a sandwich drive led by Maryam Jafari Amjad, inspired by the Collingwood Sleep Out. Her hopes are to preferably go down to the Downtown Eastside and hand out around 150 sandwiches along with an apple and a cookie per bag. These hands out will be at least one Friday every term. Fridays are the best days as they easily avoid Welfare Wednesdays (1), and students wouldn’t have to worry about tests and homework as the times will be right before the weekend. All students and staff are encouraged to participate as Collingwood is a Round Square community! Maryam and other willing volunteers went down to the Downtown Eastside on November 24 and hope to have as many participants as possible for the other upcoming events. They are hoping to continue doing this on December 15 and April 20, though we have been informed that the dates may change as we get closer to the time of the event, so check for updates. For more information about this event or to sign up, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Though make sure that you’re certain about your availability as they will be counting on you!
If you are interested in more initiatives like this, that give you the pleasure of knowing that you have helped make this world and our community better and show how blessed you are, Round Square Club is just for you! So please know that you are invited to experience the thrill of being charitable through Round Square Club which is open to all Collingwood students on Mondays at Middle-School Lunch in the Middle School Key Room and Wednesdays at Senior Lunch in the Biology Lab.
(1) Welfare Wednesdays are the last Wednesday of the month when the impoverished receive their paychecks from the government. Students should try to avoid going down to the Downtown East Side close to the time of the hand out of Welfare Wednesdays checks as that is when most people are high on drugs, since it is right after they have received their paychecks and can afford to buy drugs. The people there are also very in need right before Welfare Wednesdays, as statistics have proven that they usually use up all their money in the first week or so of receiving it.
By: Maryam Jafari-Amjad