It’s amazing what can be done with three pickup trucks full of donated bottles.
Agassiz Christian School students – under the direction of grade 6-7 teacher Simon Braun – recently raised more than $600 for Healing Hugs, a worldwide charity dedicated to providing services and treatment to underprivileged children around the world who would otherwise be permanently disabled.
“Last term, our class did a project where they had to come up with a way to make the world a better place,” Braun said. The project was to be based on one of the 17 United Nations Global Goals, established in 2000 and issued again in 2015. These goals ranged from combating poverty to social inequality to environmental issues and beyond.
The class voted on a bottle drive, the proceeds of which would go directly to Healing Hugs.
“The kids researched it, found it, they were really passionate about it,” Braun said. “After they did their presentation, a parent came to me and said ‘my daughter had a piece of medical equipment she’s done with’, and their doctor is a member of this organization, Healing Hugs.”
Braun said he was blown away by the support of the community.
“We had way more bottles than we would have ever expected to have,” Braun said. “In a two-hour span, we raised $600.10. We had three pickup trucks full of bottles. We were banking on one. It was amazing for the kids, for everybody to see how that happened.”
Not content to stop there, the classes also voted on three other projects, the most recent of which will be a food drive for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services from now until the end of February. The theme is “ACS love Agassiz.”
“Our goal is [to gather] 250 items for Community Services,” Braun said.
Braun said the class plans to clean along the banks of the Fraser River in March and in April or May plant trees with the aid of the B.C. Ministry of Forests.
Braun recalled the first time his class went to plant trees on Sts’ailes land two years ago.
“The B.C. Ministry of forests were great,” he said. “They gave us a place to go, trees to plant and showed us how it worked, it was amazing. The Sts’ailes band was really great, too. They welcomed us and told us about what the land was, and that was a cool cultural connection as well.”
Braun said he sees great value in efforts taken outside the classroom; what the student learns becomes that much more real when put into practice.
“It’s cool that they get to see more than just the classroom,” he said. “We can tell them that planting trees is a good thing all day long, but when they actually go out and do it and see the effects as life goes on, that’s pretty cool.”
During the same year, the class raised $750 for mosquito nets for Uganda, an important protection tool against malaria-carrying insects.
Braun started these philanthropic efforts with his students back in 2016 and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Healing Hugs is a part of Hope and Healing International. Healing Hugs consists of doctors, health officials, community workers and donors to bring medical treatment and emotional support to impoverished children who would otherwise face a lifetime of disability. More than 80 per cent of funds received are given directly to medical and emotional help efforts, according o their website. To donate to Healing Hugs, visit healinghugs.ca.