Thanks to his many years as a school principal, Jason Borkowski is pretty familiar with fundraisers. But this year’s fundraiser at Star of the Sea Elementary surpassed all expectations.
Students at the Catholic school in Surrey, British Columbia raise money every year through a walk-a-thon. Traditionally, students have fundraised for school needs – playground equipment, new computers, etc.
Amid COVID-19, Borkowski and his colleagues felt they needed to pay forward their blessings.
“This year, we really wanted to focus on somebody besides ourselves,” Borkowski, principal of the school, shared in an interview.
His original focus was on Chalice’s 2021 Christmas gift catalogue. He wanted the kids to learn that even a small amount of money can make a difference, and of course, about donating online.
Soon after, though, he learned about Grapesyard Education Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, a member of Chalice School Connections Campaign.
School Connections is one of Chalice’s core programs, pairing schools in Canada with schools in Tanzania and Kenya. The Canadian school fundraises for their sister school, and they both pray for one another and exchange videos. Whether they fundraise $2000 or $20,000, it all contributes to positive change.
Borkowski’s hope was for the students to see, “There are kids in the world who need and deserve just as much as they [students at Star of the Sea] do,” he said.
Across all grades, the school embarked on a walk-a-thon and took pledges from donors for Chalice.
Originally, they planned to raise $20,000, with most of that destined for Grapesyard.
The students looked at that goal, and it was as if they collectively said: We can do better.
In total, the classes raised $40,261.28 – more than doubling their goal.
More than $31,000 of the money is headed to Grapesyard, a truly transformative gift that will pay for water taps, school uniforms, teachers’ tables, first aid kits, kitchen improvements, classroom floors and more.
Star of the Sea also sponsors two children through Chalice, so some of the money will cover that for the year. The rest will go towards the gift catalogue – with a twist. The students will personally pick out the gifts and learn the value of giving.
Not only did the school raise money, but it made lasting connections by teaching the students about the issues that affect people in Nairobi. Younger classes learned through stories, while older ones learned about government and economy in Kenya.
“It became sort of a school-wide study of the area,” Borkowski said.
He plans to deepen the connection by writing back and forth with Grapesyard, and hopes the fundraiser will help students see the world differently.
After all, kids from Grapesyard smile the same smiles they do in British Columbia. Joy is joy, no matter which continent you’re on.