Teacher Art Glauser and his leadership students at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS) faced a happy dilemma, with Christmas just around the corner.
Initially the school’s Leadership class was going to sponsor a family through Langley Christmas bureau. However, there were so many applications to sponsor families this year they were unable to get a sponsor family.
Instead, they raised money for holiday shopping vouchers for a refugee family in Langley, explained ACSS principal Jeremy Lyndon.
“I applied online that week and received a response from the Langley Christmas Bureau the following week that there’s been such an outpouring of support this year, that there were no sponsor families available,” Glauser said.
So what to do?
In this case, the ACSS group decided to provide cash for food vouchers for a local Syrian refugee family of four, to buy what they needed for their Christmas dinner.
“So what they said was, that, due to language and various cultural circumstances with different groups in Langley – refugees such as Syrian and Karen – they provide those families with food vouchers that they can redeem according to their specific needs, so they are, every year, looking for cash donations for that,” Glauser related, from his conversation with the Christmas Bureau.
Glauser brought a couple of ideas back to his students the following week. They had bandied about a coin drive as well as selling samosas in the school.
“Some of our leadership students, they got a good deal on samosas at a really good restaurant, so we are going to do a big samosa sale at lunch and we’ve got a whole bunch of students involved in organizing that,” Glauser told The Times on Dec. 14.
The goal is that the sale, together with other fundraisers, would produce roughly $500 for the cause.
Grade 12 Josh Hatch said the payoff for the leadership students is the satisfaction of helping a family in need.
“It’s just really the fact of helping someone that can’t afford any of their traditional food in Canada,” Hatch said.
Glauser said as a leadership teacher, his goal is to get students to look outside of themselves and “get that experience of giving.”
“They not only get the reward of being able to do something for somebody else, but it also makes them realize how fortunate they are in many of those circumstances,” Glauser said.
The leadership class at ACSS is a year-long course in which students meet once each week before school, and do journaling and reflection. The core of the program is each student has to accumulate 100 volunteer hours within the course of the school year.
“So they have volunteer opportunities in school and outside of school,” said Glauser , citing after-school programs at nearby elementary schools, and helping out at the Aldergrove vets and seniors Christmas lunch as examples.
Glauser believes there is no greater characteristic in being a leader than helping others.
“That’s what leaders do: they are not there for themselves, they are there for others,” Glauser said.