Arden Holmes: Student raises funds and awareness for East Africa

Arden Holmes: Student raises funds and awareness for East Africa

Arden Holmes

Arden Holmes, a grade 12 student at the Langley Fine Arts School, organized an event that raised over $1,100 for MCC East Africa drought response.

It was the images of devastation coming out of Kenya and Ethiopia that drove Arden Holmes to action.

The 17-year-old Langley Fine Arts School student always thought of herself as someone of compassion and empathy but decided that this time, she wanted to make a difference. As she discussed ideas and options with her mother, Teresa Pippus, she soon realized that if she really wanted to do something of substance, she’d have to involve others.

She and her mother soon became a team, organizing a barbecue and silent auction to raise funds for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)’s East Africa Famine Relief.

“A barbecue just seemed like the ideal setting to not only get people together for a good time but along with a silent auction, would raise awareness and money,” Arden says.

Arden booked a picnic area at Derby Reach in Fort Langley and started inviting people through Facebook. Teresa also invited people from her work and contributed the food for the barbecue. Friends, family and local businesses contributed items for the silent auction – everything from scarves and jewelry to a bluetooth set.

On the day of the barbecue, friends helped with set up and as people arrived they were able to bid on auction items right away. When it was time to eat, guests were encouraged to make a donation for famine relief efforts in East Africa.

“To my surprise and happiness, everyone donated,” Arden says, adding that the feedback that she got on the event was very positive.

Arden chose MCC as the organization to which she’d contribute because she felt confident that the funds raised would get where they were intended to go. It was important to her that she could meet with MCC director of resource development, Phil Schafran, to talk about her fundraising efforts. Schafran was moved by Arden’s compassion and hard work.

“It was great to meet Arden and Teresa and hear about Arden’s efforts to raise money for those suffering from the East Africa famine,” Schafran says. “Arden is an inspiration to all of us to make a difference in people’s lives and be surprised by joy.”

In the end, Arden and her guests raised over $1,100 to help those in need in East Africa. She is very proud of her efforts – not only for the money it raised but for the awareness it raised for those who participated.

“(Two people) personally told me that they were going to donate money because of the awareness my event brought to them and their families. That was really awesome to hear,” she says, adding that she is so glad that she became a person of action.

“I am so glad I did this fundraiser, it got friends together, people outside and brought awareness. It helped us to celebrate friendship and be grateful for how much we have in Canada,” she says. “We have so much in developed countries, it is nice to give someone a gift that we can sometimes take for granted.”

Arden hopes others will read her story and also be inspired to act. Gifts given to MCC for famine relief efforts in East Africa before September 16 will be matched by the Canadian government. Donations can be made by making cheques out to MCC and designated for East Africa Drought Response and sent to MCC BC, 31414 Marshall Road, Box 2038 Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 3T8. Credit card donations are also accepted online at or by calling 604-850-6639 or toll free at 1-888-622-6337. For more information about MCC, visit

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