Theatre teacher Patrick McMath makes a contribution to student Dwayne Melendez. Black Press photo

How some Langley students used spare change, bake sales and candy-cane-grams to help the needy

This week, three families will have a better Christmas as a result

Every Monday morning for over a month, Langley Secondary School (LSS) students Nathalie Dafoe, Jordan Baerg and Dwayne Melendez have been going from classroom to classroom in search of spare change.

“So as you already know, we’re from the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) team,” Melendez told one classroom.

“If you have anything to donate, please do.”

“We also have a bake sale,” Baerg said.

They were one of several fund-raising teams from the 23-student AVID class at LSS out to raise at least $1,000 to help two to three Langley families this Christmas.

In classroom after classroom, teachers and students dumped coins into a repurposed Halloween candy bucket.

The AVID program is unique in that it pairs one teacher with the same group of group of students over several years.

“Each year they do community outreach programs,” teacher Kendall Sewell said.

“It’s theirs to own and theirs to run and I’m just there to facilitate,” Sewell added.

“In this program, we focus on “being our best self,” with the goal of striving for academic excellence, post-secondary dreams, and bettering both ourselves and our communities.”

The students decided how they wanted to raise money, and they opted for collecting spare change, bake sales and candy candy-grams, where donors can arrange to have messages delivered to specific people with a holiday treat.

Lillian Weaver-Beck made cupcakes, cookies, rice crispy squares and brownies with classmate Sofia Andrews.

“Me and Sofia had a lot of fun baking,” Weaver-Beck said.

“It’s fun to do this for a good cause.”

“I’m surprised how much money we got,” Andrews said.

Shea MacAllister was a first-time baker who rose to the occasion.

“We needed someone to bake brownies and I’m, like, hey, that doesn’t sound too hard, MacAllister said.

“I never baked before,” Melendez said, laughing.

“I learned how to bake the weekend I was supposed to bake.”

On Friday, the campaign wrapped.

They had raised $1,300, more than the target and enough to help three families instead of two.

This week, the students were to go out as a class to purchase the gifts for the families, wrap the presents, and deliver them.

The plan was to deliver the gifts on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

“I was kind of excited to do it.” Baerg said.

“It’s good to give back to people who aren’t as fortunate as you,” Melendez said.

“To make them happy,” Nathalie Dafoe added.

Among the other Langley student holiday initiatives this season:

James Hill Elementary had a food drive to create hampers for families in need as well as a “Christmas Angels” program that involves collecting presents for families that could use assistance over the holiday season.

Fort Langley Elementary and Yorkson Creek Middle School set up “giving trees” to help the needy.

Willoughby Elementary held their annual food and gift drive. Food was collected for the Langley Food Bank and gifts are being forwarded to Ishtar House.

Gator Pod students from Walnut Grove Secondary School delivered gifts to a Langley family in need.

D.W. Poppy students organized Christmas hampers for seven needy families.

A group of Social Justice Leadership students in the school district were preparing gifts for a special visit to the Langley Youth Hub.

Langley school superintendent, Gord Stewart, praised the student efforts in an online statement:

“The Christmas season is a great time to connect with family and share in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately for some of our Langley families, this time of year can also be very challenging emotionally and financially. I greatly appreciate the efforts of students in our schools to support Christmas hampers, toy drives, the Langley Christmas Bureau, food drives, and adopt a family initiatives. These actions truly speak to the spirit of Christmas.”

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