Members of the W.C. Miller Collegiate Student Council committed $1,700 back to the community this year through its Youth in Philanthropy (YiP) Fund. Money raised from student-led fundraisers was matched by the Altona Community Foundation (ACF) and doled out to three organizations selected by the students - the Kiddie Sunshine Centre, Gardens on Tenth and Genesis House.

"These groups had applied and they had some really good ideas on what they were going to use the money for, so we thought that we should give the money to them and help them out as best we could," explained Mackenzie, a grade 10 student on Council and the YiP group.  

"Each of them had a unique way of using the money," added grade 12 student and YiP group member, Wafaa Abukhousa. 

The YiP group created different fundraisers throughout the year to fit within the changing public health orders. They included the sale of school clothing, two bake sales in partnership with the Culinary Arts department, and the grade 11/12 drama class collected donations during its spring performance.

Wafaa was part of the drama troupe as well, and said it was nice to host some in-person events. 

"We thought, why not turn it into a fundraiser if we have the chance, finally?"

“I feel like this year of fundraising was a success. It was nice that we were able to do fundraisers again as we missed them these last two years," added Madison Gerbrandt in a news release. "We were also very grateful to have gotten enough fundraising to give money to each organization that put in a grant!”

YIP group members are looking forward to the return of a more predictable school year in the fall when they can start dreaming up more creative fundraising events for the future.

The Kiddie Sunshine Centre will use its $700 grant to purchase art materials, games and supplies to be used in its School Age program over the summer months. 

Executive Director Patricia Klassen says the need for more supplies stemmed from the centre's merger with the Rhineland Childcare Centre which took effect this year.

"Now we have even more children that we providing activities and experiences with, so we needed more supplies. That centre did not have any school-aged children enrolled so it didn't really have school-age appropriate materials."

Klassen is grateful for this extra boost in funding.

"As a non-profit organization, budgets are super tight so we do rely on grant money of all kinds to buy activity supplies and extra equipment."

Miranda Reimer is the Life Enrichment Supervisor and the Assistant Supportive Housing Supervisor at Gardens on Tenth. That organization received $500 to help purchase plants for its courtyard-raised garden beds for both vegetables and flowers. 

"Our tenants spend a lot of time out there in the summer, especially with COVID having been passed they are spending more time with family and visitors outside and getting to watch the progress of the plants growing. Contributing to helping take care of them and plant them themselves is such a benefit, especially for those who that's an activity they used to enjoy."

Reimer is grateful for the funds and for all of the hard work the students did to fundraise, and that they wanted to contribute to the seniors in their community.

The third grant, worth $500, went to Genesis House to help purchase additional remotes and games for the Nintendo Switch Project at the shelter. 

"When you're locked in the shelter, to try to get some peace, screen time is just one of the options that we have to use," explained Ang Braun, executive director for the Winkler-based organization. "We choose appropriate games for the centre (and so,) mom gets a break, kids get engaged with the system and also often times with staff playing as well." 

"Coming at kids with a conversation about, how does it feel to be here? You don't often get to start there, so you have to start with something else and a gaming system is a fun way to do that," added Braun.

Lorne Braul is the past president of ACF and serves as the Foundation's YiP Liaison. He says the partnership between the two groups is intended to promote the idea of philanthropy among the youth and encourage students to fundraise.

"(It) accentuates the effect of their fundraising dollars so they can have a better impact on the community while still acknowledging and connecting their work with the amount that is generated," he explained. 

The YiP program at Miller has been in place since 2009, and the two groups have reached the end of the current three-year agreement. Braul says ACF is looking forward to partnering for a further term. 

"It's been a great relationship. I think it's become quite ingrained in the school culture, both among students and staff, to have a space on student council for this Youth in Philanthropy program. The idea of holding fundraisers, reviewing applications, communicating with them (the applicants) about the success of their applications and today, meeting with them to present and celebrate the grants is a part of what they are doing here and we're hoping that can continue into the indefinite future."