By Sarah Petz
Local high school students who are dedicated to giving back to their community were in the spotlight Wednesday at the Youth in Philanthropy program granting celebration.
The program, spearheaded by the Kenora and Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation, is aimed at connecting youth with local charitable organizations and teaching them the value of philanthropy. Eight charities were chosen from students at Beaver Brae and St. Thomas Aquinas to receive donations of $700 each. The grants were made possible through financial support from Copperfin Credit Union and the Kenora Rotary Club.
It’s a Dog’s Life, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, The Cat Shelter, and the Women’s Shelter Saakaate House were chosen to receive grants by students at Beaver Brae. The Alzheimer Society of Kenora and Rainy River Districts, the Kenora Fellowship Centre, Kenora Sexual Assault Centre, and Lake of the Woods Historical Society were chosen by St. Thomas Aquinas students to receive grants.
The grants received by the eight local organizations will help cover a variety of their costs.
For example, the money donated to the Women’s Shelter Saakaate House will go towards helping women replace the items they left behind when they were fleeing their homes to escape abusive situations, such as their IDs, jackets and clothes for their children.
Money donated to the Kenora Fellowship Centre will help provide those who are homeless in the area with a “place of safety and shelter,” said Rev. Henry Hildebrandt.
Mayor Dave Canfield said he thought the program was “fantastic” in teaching youth about the importance of leadership and philanthropy in their community.
“It’s usually something that starts in older generations when people can afford to start giving more money, but youth getting involved in it sends a fantastic message,” Canfield said. “It’s a mentoring program for them as they get older, and also some peer pressure for their fellow students that this is the right thing to do.”
Canfield pointed out that many local non-profit organization rely on donations to continue operating.
“[ … ] The municipal government, the provincial government, the federal government, we can’t fund everything. It’s impossible, you just can’t afford to,” Canfield explained. “That’s why we […] have people who raise money [ … ] to help a lot of these non-profit organizations survive and do really good work.”
Lora Gramenz, a student in the tenth grade at Beaver Bray High School, said she decided to get involved in the YIP program to get to know more about the community and the work that people are doing to benefit it. She said that overall, it was very positive experience.
“There are so many people who give their time without ever asking anything in return to help people in the community,” she said.