Spare change for a good cause

(Megan Cooke/AQ)
Lauran Hass and Emily Arsenault (Megan Cooke/AQ)

In a string of independent efforts, three STU residences have chosen to sponsor children from impoverished regions of the world for the first time this year.

Through the organization Plan Canada and its chapter Because I am a Girl, Chatham, Rigby and Vanier house committees have organized ways of sending monthly donations to children and their communities in Indonesia and Burkina Faso.

“Our sponsor child is named Angeline. She’s from Burkina Faso and this was her last year in the program before she wouldn’t be able to continue her education,” said second year Chatham sports and nutrition representative Lauran Haas.

Vanier’s sponsor child is named Djemilatou and is from the same West African country.

“Since Vanier is an all girls’ residence, I thought it would be a no brainer to choose a girl to sponsor. So, after already having contacted World Vision, I switched to Because I am a Girl because I thought the choosing process would be easier since I hate how the choosing process is set up for sponsoring a child,” said second year environmental and charity representative Mary-Catherine Doucet.

Rigby Hall house committee member Emily Arsenault also had a tough time when it came to actually selecting a specific sponsor child.

“I couldn’t get myself to simply choose one child over another so I asked the woman to pick a child who had been there for a long time and was in need of help the most, and she made the decision for us.”

Arsenault is now in charge of collecting donations for a young boy from Southeast Asia who will be greatly benefitted by the house’s initiative.

“His name is Deni, he’s from Indonesia and he’s seven,” Arsenault said. “He does go to school, but it’s a very long walk each day, and his village does not have a source of clean water.”

Supporting a charity can be hard to pull off for students after paying for tuition and textbooks. However the difference of a small community trying to help out makes it worthwhile.

“For a student, it would be really hard to sponsor a child, I know most people don’t exactly have $400 just sitting around, but it’s really affordable as a house to raise the money.”

Arsenault also described the surprisingly easy process of collecting the required funds.

“We went around a couple days ago door to door in Rigby asking for donations, nothing big just for any spare change if they could, and we got about three months’ worth of payment already.”

Strangely enough, Vanier and Forest Hill’s decisions to sponsor children this year actually arose independently of each other in a case of charitable coincidence.

“I didn’t know that other residences decided to sponsor children as well. I’m glad that St. Thomas students are so willing to get involved and help out others around the world,” said Doucet.

Residents of the houses have been expressing excitement surrounding the sponsorships, and plans to keep in close contact with the children are in place in each of the three houses.

“You can sign up to have communication with the village and the kid, so throughout the year, we’ll hopefully be getting letters from him and be able to send him pictures and Christmas cards and whatnot,” said Arsenault.

Each sponsorship is renewed on a yearly basis. If funds become too tight, then the donations could be put on hold, but there is a great chance that with the giving spirit at STU, students will surely hand down this opportunity from year to year.

“I personally hope that it’s a long term thing. Next year’s house committee can choose to opt out of the program, but I highly doubt they will,” said Haas.

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