GVC Youth in Philanthropy group bettering community

The Garden Valley Collegiate Youth in Philanthropy group held a paint night on April 4. (SUPPLIED)

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A paint night last week is just one of many fundraisers being put on by a volunteer group of local students.

Grade 10 students Seth Friesen and Emily Bueckert and Grade 11 student Teresa Siemens are three of around 20 Youth in Philanthropy students at Garden Valley Collegiate. The three have been part of the volunteer group for two years now.

Siemens came into the group through her friends, Bueckert through a desire to get involved with the charities in the area and Friesen from previous experience with his elementary school YiP group.

When Northlands Parkway Collegiate opened, there wasn’t a YiP program at GVC anymore. This is the third year now the program has been running, and YiP staff advisor Susana Hawryshko said the numbers have been increasing every year.

“It’s nice to see that kids want to volunteer and they want to do good in the community,” she said. “Even for teachers, a lot of us adults aren’t aware of what the needs are in the community and what the different organizations do. We just make assumptions and have an idea of what they are, but not really what’s involved in all the work.”

The YiP group has three purposes: Educate, Volunteer, Fundraise.

Throughout the year, the students have been raising money through events while also getting out into the community to make a difference. In fall, the YiP group raked leaves and in the winter they shovelled driveways for those that needed help.

The YiP collected items for shoeboxes around Christmas and collected food for the Winkler and District Food Cupboard.

The group’s most recent event was a Paint Night on April 4, which included dinner and a guided art experience of a country road scene.

“We had done the same event last year and it was quite successful,” Bueckert said. “It’s a lot cheaper than most paint nights, so that gives people an opportunity to come enjoy painting.”

Friesen said the students do most of the brainstorming for events. “We come up with an event we want to do, [the teachers] come up with stuff that needs to happen and then we’ll get it done,” he said.

Siemens said they try to look at events that will interest other students and adults at the same time, on top of finding events that will raise a fair amount of money for charity.

The YiP group works with the Winkler Community Foundation to increase their existing endowment fund and grant back the interest plus money they fundraise.

The GVC YiP group is accepting applications from non-profit organizations in the area. The application will be online at gvc.gvsd.ca and will be due in April.

“It could be a small project of $200, $300, it could be a project of $10,000 and they’re just looking for a $500 contribution toward it,” Hawryshko said.

Bueckert said it’s a good feeling when they get to grant money out to organizations. “You get to see how that impacts them,” she said. “That is the most rewarding thing.”

“I always think it’s pretty amazing how we give up one lunch hour a week and a day every now and then, and how much money we can raise from that and how much of an impact that can make,” Friesen added.

Siemens said through her time in YiP, she has learned what a difference she can make in the community.

“Especially when we were able to help the Food Cupboard collecting canned goods and then delivering it,” she said. “To see the smile on the faces, to know that someone is getting food today, it makes a big difference. It’s a happy feeling to know that someone is going to have a meal to eat today.”

“One of the things I’ve learned with being part of the Youth in Philanthropy team is just how many needs there are in the community,” Bueckert said. “By putting forth some effort you can make a change.”

Friesen added that students have learned many leadership and organizational skills.

Coming up, the YiP will be participating in the WE Walk for Water, which fundraises to provide clean water for communities in need all around the world.

Students will be collecting pledges and walking on May 10 for the cause.