Winkler Elementary School's Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program presented a cheque worth 490.25$ to a pair of designated non-profits on Thursday.

That figure was matched by Winkler Community Foundation.

The funds will be directed to Gateway Resources and Salem Home. 

"[We will use it] for extra resources for the Life Skills program," explains Kimberly Nelson, CEO at Gateway. "Therapy resources, yoga bands, yoga mats, strength training for occupational therapy things. It is really great having this opportunity to just expand and enhance our services and seeing that the school promotes those opportunities within community and to enhance community development is an awesome opportunity."

The experience will benefit students as well according to teacher and YIP program leader, Jason Grant.

"The biggest thing is just being able to help other people and do some good for the community without expecting anything in return. It's kind of like working without getting paid and realizing the benefit in that and that it's a good thing."

At Salem Home, the funds will support wheelchair-accessible planter beds.

"They love all the features of them and just how nice they are. It's wonderful," said Alana Thiessen, Salem's Director of Community Engagement.

"In the past, the residents didn't have the opportunity to go right up to and like underneath [the planter beds] because the legs are always there. So they have to reach. And the way things were we had to trellis our cucumbers. So they were never able to really eat the cucumbers because they couldn't reach them. But now we're able to have them binding off of the planters. And they are so excited because they can just go and pick whenever they want, they can go and weed, they can do whatever. It just has given them such a huge sense of independence back for gardening. The amount of dirty fingernails that we have to clean now is wonderful!"

Thiessen says it's honouring, humbling and heartwarming to see such strong support for their intergenerational programs coming from every age group in the community.

Two events lay at the heart of the fundraising project: a bake sale and a chocolate candy train.

"We called it the Too Too Train," explained Grade 7 student Sam Janzen. "We took paper paint and two wheelie carts and tied them together, painted it so it looked like chocolate and then added a smoke stack full of Tootsie Pops. Then we got a whole bunch of bowls, put the whole bunch of chocolates in there and whatnot. Yeah, we went around the school and did different age groups. That was fun!"

There was an added, rather novel incentive for YIP students to reach their fundraising goal - Janzen and Grant agreed to shave their hair after reaching the three-hundred dollar mark.

"I immediately threw out the idea," said Janzen. "Why don't we just buzz your head at a certain dollar amount? He said only if you do and I said OK. I said we'd have to have a middle mark of something. So our middle mark was $150. Our goal was $300."

Janzen says they were supposed to get a reward when they reached the halfway point of their goal. 

"And the mark would be ice cream sandwiches, which we never got," confessed a sheepish Grant. "I forgot. I got my head shaved by Shanna Potter, another teacher here, out in the yard, actually and all the kids gathered around. After that we went inside and I shaved Sam’s head."


Grade 7 student Sam Janzen and teacher/YIP leader Jason Grant agreed to shave their heads  one the YIP fundraiser reached the mid-way point of it's goal.Grade 7 student Sam Janzen and YIP leader Jason Grant agree to shave their heads once the YIP fundraiser hit the mid-way point of it's goal.

Sam says his mom wasn't happy about the buzz cut. 

In the end, it all went toward a great cause for the community.

A total of 32 students took part in this year's YIP program.  

With files from Nicole Klassen