Every year the Evergreen Catholic School Division in Alberta chooses a charitable cause in which all the board’s staff and students collectively fundraises for throughout the academic year. Often the cause is tied to the year division faith theme. This year’s faith theme is “In Christ, all are welcome, all belong.”
And so, they selected Toonies for Tuition to connect with that theme.
Evergreen Catholic School Division is a separate school authority within the Canadian province of Alberta operated out of Spruce Grove and includes 10 schools and a division office.
The Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association has made a commitment to support Toonies for Tuition and each board was encouraged to contribute each year based on the number of students they have graduating.
ECS Superintendent Dr. Cindi Vaselenak explains how it came on their attention, and why they’re giving their full support to Toonies for Tuition this academic year.
“Our board chair Gerald Bernakevitch has been a HUGE advocate for Toonies for Tuition and has always encouraged schools to donate. It has always been on our radar and we donate,” she explains. “However, this year we decided to really push it because there is so much negativity in the papers about the need for publicly funded Catholic education and Alberta could be in jeopardy of losing it. We wanted to make sure we support Catholic education publicly (especially in an election year) and as one united division effort at a time, the value of Catholic education is publicly challenged.”
On August 31, ECS kicked off the school year with Faith Development Day (FDD). Staff from all schools attended as well as division office staff and the eight trustees.
“This year our keynote speaker was Roy Petitfils. Roy was chosen because his personal story is much about getting a break in life because he was sponsored for Catholic private education (in Louisiana) as it was a better choice than public education in the U.S. at that time. His Catholic education turned his life around,” explains Doctor Vaselenak.
That same day, they kicked off their fundraising efforts for Toonies for Tuition. The division office hosted a silent auction at the back of the parish and staff throughout the division could bid on items during the day. Vaselenak was floored by her team’s contributions.
“My office – only 22 people – contributed 35 different auction items which included most services they could do or items they paid for. These were things like making 10 dozen Christmas cookies, or a staff Italian lunch, or a day where a superintendent would cover a teacher’s classes. Other division office people formed teams and came up with wonderful gift baskets, many themed around Canada’s 150 birthday,” she says. “The auction raised $4,000.”
The division office also donated the jean money from last year (they pay a toonie to wear jeans to work on select days). At the FDD mass, they got permission to take a collection for Toonies, which brought in another $1,150.
The division office has set a goal to raise $1 per every child in the division. With 4,000 students in the division and a school goal to raise $3 per student, they hope to collectively raise $16,000. Each of the 10 schools will do a fundraising project for Toonies for Tuition throughout the year.
One school, St. Thomas the Aquinas Catholic School, has already started to contribute to the goal. At the beginning of the school year, they hosted a bake sale attached to their ‘Meet the Teacher’ night and it raised $1,300.
Later this fall, St Marguerite, a K-4 school, is doing an art show for Toonies for Tuition. Each class is doing a collaborative work of art that will be auctioned at parent teacher interviews (pictured).
“We are off to a good start,” says Doctor Vaselenak. “To date, we have raised $6,800 and that is only our division office and one school.”
Every month, Doctor Vaselenak will report the grand total across the division every month and share stories about how school raised the funds. With them already past the 40 percent goal mark, they’re well on their way.