There are lots of ways for high school students to achieve their required community service hours. Grade 10 students Jaden DaSilva and Beketa Million made theirs count by co-organizing a neighbourhood event that raised $1,800 for Eva’s last summer.

It all started when Pamela Osorio-Kettle received a call from Eva’s fundraising team during the height of the pandemic. “They talked about the impact of COVID-19 on youth and the services that Eva’s provides. That conversation really stuck with me. It made me think about what’s in my control and what I could do to help.”

With a limited budget to donate to charity, she considered other ways to raise money for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“I had some new toys that my kids had outgrown piling up in my basement and thought, ‘Why not sell them in a yard sale, collect the monies, and give them to Eva’s’?” she said.

“When I started reaching out to my broader community to see if others had toys to contribute, Jaden put his hand up and said, ‘I don’t have much to do during the pandemic. How can I help?’”

The two quickly put their heads together and came up with the idea of a neighbourhood fundraiser where youth could pitch in to help other youth. Jaden’s Fundraiser became a special community event that included a lemonade stand, bake sale, yoga class for kids, bootcamp exercise class for adults, as well as a toys and games sale.

As the event date neared, Jaden’s friend Beketa came on board and the two reached out to friends, family, and local businesses for bake sale and toy donations. They helped organize all the details that went into planning and led the older youth volunteers on the day of the event.

Involving as many young people as possible was important to Pamela. “We recruited volunteers as young as 6 to 11 years old to staff the lemonade stand. The volunteers didn’t have numeracy skills and we helped by pairing them with older youth volunteers. This was youth empowering youth!” she said.

For Jaden, the experience was invigorating. “I really enjoyed working on the fundraiser. I knew that the harder I worked and the more effort I put into things like the posters and the number of toys I could get for us to sell, the more money would be raised for youth who really need support.”

Being part of the day’s events was especially gratifying. “It was so fun interacting with people and seeing everyone enjoy it. I felt confident in what I was doing, I felt that what we were doing was good, and I was proud of us for surpassing our goal,” he said.

Pamela and Jaden plan to use what they learned from their first event to organize another fundraiser this summer. They’re already brainstorming, and Jaden has lined up 15 friends from school to pitch in.

“We’ll continue to work under the idea and mantra of youth helping youth for youth,” said Pamela.

Looking to set up a community event in support of Eva’s? Please contact Suzanne Vu, Manager, Annual and Community Giving, at [email protected]