Colesen Ford can’t remember a single Christmas morning when he woke up and there weren’t any presents under the tree. But he knows that some kids aren’t so lucky.
That’s why the Grade 9 student at Porter Creek Secondary School is taking part in the Share the Spirit fundraising campaign this year.
The money goes towards buying toys and food hampers for local families in need.
“I wanted to give somebody that doesn’t get a Christmas, Christmas,” Ford said during a pancake breakfast at the school yesterday.
“It’s my first time taking part in something like this and I’m excited to help. I never grew up without Christmas so it’s something I want to give to kids this year.”
It’s also the first year Porter Creek Secondary is involved with Share the Spirit, although the fundraiser has been around for more than a decade.
Kyla Greve is a teacher at the school who is spearheading the effort this year.
Teachers and students sponsor children for $50 each and then go buy presents for them on the 15th.
The next day, they gift-wrap and deliver them to the Kinette Club of Whitehorse, a non-profit that distributes the toys and food.
“We’ve been fundraising since the beginning of November and so far we’ve raised enough to sponsor 25 children,” Greve said.
The classes have been raising money through bake sales and donations, mostly.
“I’ve done it at the last school I worked at and everybody was into it there. It’s the greatest feeling to get presents in the morning as a child so being able to share that feeling with other children is what I go for.
“All first morning teachers are sponsoring a child but they also have the choice of raising money for a $100 food hamper, too.”
Greve said her goal this year is to raise enough money to sponsor 30 children.
The deadline is Monday, so the pancake breakfast was part of the final push to reach that goal.
Greve and her students in the cafeteria class have also been selling ice cream, cake pops and brownies to raise extra money for the cause.
“The kids are really into it,” she said.
“One student was very excited that she raised her $50 because when she was younger, she used to get presents from the Share the Spirit program. I think it’s an easy buy-in for students to get involved.”
Greve said she hopes to turn it into an annual event and keep the entire school involved.
Val Bumstead, president of the Kinette Club, has been with the non-profit since its inception in 1998.
She said she’s witnessed a steady increase in demand coming from families in need.
Last year, the Kinettes helped approximately 280 families and more than 600 children.
The organization gets referrals from various agencies in town. This year, however, they had to cap the number of families at 200.
“Last year we kept on getting more and more families and went over our limit,” she said.
“It gets so difficult to put it all together if you keep adding to it. It’s quite a chore to get everything organized so we decided to cap it.”
Bumstead said several other schools take part in the fundraiser, including Vanier Catholic Secondary School, which has been doing it for many years.
But in the end the cause isn’t successful without its volunteers, she added.
“We couldn’t do it without the community,” she said.
“They’re the ones that volunteer their time to help us out, we just put it all together in the end. If we didn’t have the community behind us, the program wouldn’t work.”
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