BONNYVILLE – On Thursday, students from École Notre Dame High School spent five hours near high-traffic locations in Bonnyville to cheer on and encourage community members to donate non-perishable food items and money for a good cause.
This year’s annual “Hungry for the Homeless” campaign brought in $2,900 and loaded up two of the school's buses full of food items, says Siobhan Squires, a École Notre Dame teacher and the social justice club's supervisor.
All the food and funds raised by the high school students will be donated directly to Bonnyville’s Friendship Centre.
The first Hungry for the Homeless fundraiser took shape almost five years ago after the social justice club shifted gears and started focusing on more local projects, said Squires.
“The first time we did it we raised $400 and a couple boxes of food. It was a humble beginning,” she said. “Then last time we did this, we raised over $1,000, we had 31 boxes of food, and all of it has been donated to the Friendship Center.”
However, due to the pandemic the annual event took a pause.
Students in Grade 12 this year were the last group to participate in the last Hungry for the Homeless fundraiser. Squires explained that her soon-to-graduating students wanted to “close the gap” and organize the campaign again.
Coming back from a two-year break, the students' goal was to reach the $1,000 target again - which they quickly did.
While École Notre Dame’s Grade 12 students were stationed at Sobeys to collect food and cash donations, Grades 9 through 11 students waved signs at passersby along Main Street at the intersection of 50 St. and 50 Ave.
Squires credits this year's success to the energy and enthusiasm brought by the students as well as the addition of seven staff members who pitched in to make sure the event ran smoothly.
Wyatt Waldner, Sophie Gamache and Jenna Coates are Grade 12 students who participated in the fundraiser both as Grade 10 students, as well as this year.
Describing his motivation to plan the campaign Waldner said, “I just wanted to help all people in my community because I know there's so many people who are less fortunate than me that don't have the food and shelter that I do. So, I just want to make a difference.”
For high schooler Gamache, the contribution of time and effort is personal. “I’ve struggled a lot too, and it's nice to know that I can help people that are also struggling.”
She added, “You see that everyone is willing to give a little bit of kindness to the world and it’s really inspiring.”
The first year Coates got involved it was to fulfill service hours, but after her first fundraising campaign, her motivations changed. “At first, it was more for the community service hours, but after the whole shebang, it was mainly to help people in need,” she said.