In total, they fundraised over $1,700 to purchase gifts for a family of five in need, and even ended up with extra to donate to other families. The idea was started by teacher Kelty Pratt’s grade 9 leadership class, and student Meagan McDermott says they were inspired to help others have a happy holiday season.
“We started it because we felt that it’s not really fair to other families if they can’t afford to buy the necessary clothes or towels or stuff like that, that they should have a special Christmas too and get stuff that they want and need.”
The students don’t know the names of who they’re buying for, but they were given a list of their genders and ages, and some of the things they’d need or want this Christmas. Grade 9 student Sarah McAleny says instead, they made up fake names to make buying for the family more personal.
“Even if we don’t know their names or we don’t know who they are, it’s a good way to stay into the community and know what’s going on, the troubles we have and how we can help,” she explains. “It’s kind of upsetting to know that this happened to someone in our community, but I was really happy, that when we talked about doing it, I was like, let’s go!”
The family the students are supporting this year includes a single father, a 2 and a half year old boy, and three girls aged 6 months, and 8 and 11 years old. The class wrapped up some of the gifts from “Santa”, and the others will be left for the father to wrap and give himself. Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director Danielle Armstrong explains that many of the families who qualify for the program are one income families, who may struggle all year round, but can’t afford the added pressure of the holiday season,.
“I think in our community it can be misleading a lot of times because there’s so much money in Fort St. John, and it’s a very bustling kind of community, and often times we don’t think about the fact that the cost of living is so high here as well.”
One student in the leadership class knows firsthand what getting help at the holidays can mean to a family. When he was three years old, Christopher Seguin’s family was sponsored, and says it meant a lot to his mother.
“It’s nice to see that our school’s participating in sponsoring a family. When I was younger my family got sponsored at one point in time, so it’s a great feeling to know that our school is nice enough to help out a community.”
The students say they’d like to do this on an annual basis, and would like to try sponsoring a different family per grade level. Although it’s too late for this season, if your family or company is interested in sponsoring a family, contact Danielle Armstrong at 250-793-5599.