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Spectrum Community School winter fundraiser generates $10K for families in need

High school shifts to monetary donations as COVID-19 puts damper on annual hamper drive
(Left to right) Spectrum Community School Principal Bruce Bidney poses with two members of the U16AAA South Island Royals, Carter Dyck and Colby Robinson, after the team donated $1,200 to the school’s winter fundraiser. (Photo courtesy Bruce Bidney)

Students and staff at Spectrum Community School in Saanich modified their annual hamper drive in the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to raise more than $10,000 for families in need.

Every December, the students in Grades 9-12 at Spectrum Community School organize a hamper drive to deliver food to families over the holidays.

It’s an annual “hokie” tradition that Johnathan Berry, head of the school’s Inclusive Education department, took over when he came to Spectrum 15 years ago.

‘Hokie,’ a term often used at the school, which means do good things, be inclusive and look out for one another.

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In a normal year, students in the leadership program would organize a food drive and collect about 100 boxes of donated goods. Then, on the last day of class before winter break, the food would be packed up by the students and delivered to 30 families struggling to make ends meet.

The families elect themselves and the only requirement is that they have a child attending the school, Berry explained. This year, 33 families were chosen.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the school opted to focus on raising money this year rather than collecting food. Throughout December, students and staff raised $10,450, said principal Bruce Bidney.

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Berry then took the funds to purchase grocery store gift cards for each of the selected families, and some stores like Country Grocer even topped up the cards with extra funds. Then, on Dec. 18, the last day of class, volunteer teachers delivered boxes filled with gift cards, chocolates and holiday cards to the 33 families’ doorsteps.

About 30 per cent of the funds raised came from staff donations and the rest came from the students and their families. As part of the push for funds on the last day, students were given the opportunity to buy their way out of class to watch a movie.

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The students missed the food drive and hamper-packing this year, so hopefully, those aspects can resume this winter, Berry said. He added that some students were surprised to find out that the money would be going to their peers’ families as they weren’t aware that members of the school community are struggling.

The largest donation came from the South Island Royals who contributed $1,200, and the largest donation from a single class came from a group of pre-calculus 11 students who collected $750 for the cause.

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Students and staff at Spectrum Community School in Saanich raised more than $10,000 for families in need with their annual winter fundraiser. (Photo courtesy Bruce Bidney)