Poplar Ridge School staff decided to do a ‘Fun Raiser’ for their second year in a row, but didn’t know what to fundraise for until a cause was found close to home.
Grade 3 teacher Wayne Phillips was diagnosed with colon cancer and required treatment at the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.
“We knew at the beginning of the year we wanted to do something again this year, so we started planning for the fun raiser right at the start of the year,” said one of the organizers Debbie Czainski.
The fun raiser was done last year to raise funds for the tsunami relief efforts.
“When everything came about with Mr. Phillips having been diagnosed with colon cancer, we decided that this was just what we needed to do,” said Czainski.
Other staff members agreed that one of the most heart-warming facts about the funds raised is that they will stay local.
“One hundred per cent of the money we raise will be going to the Central Alberta Cancer Centre,” said Czainski.
A total of $4,008 was raised during the four day fun raiser and the cheque was presented directly to Mr. Phillips while he was in the hospital.
“It was a busy week all week long but full of energy and enthusiasm for the purpose. It’s true dedication from these kids showing that they care,” said principal Barb Hanson. She said there were many things that stood out in her mind about the fun raiser week but the immediate commitment from staff to take part and the community’s desire to donate was incredible.
The money raised came from what is called a ‘Passport to Fun.’ Students were able to purchase privileges, as were the teachers. Some of the privileges available to staff included free supervision or being able to wear jeans.
The students had an extensive list of things that they could purchase. These items included being able to wear a hat or a jersey each for $2, being able to eat lunch on the staffroom couch for $10, having lunch with a friend from another class for $2 and many others.
Baked goods and popcorn were also being sold at the school to staff and students which is where Czainski said it has been remarkable to watch the staff take part.
“We needed baked goods every day and without really having to ask there they were. The staff provided most if not all of the baked goods.”
Along with being able to buy privileges, the students and staff were asked right from the start to support Mr. Phillips and join together as a school by wearing blue, the colour for colon cancer.
“We researched what colour goes with what cancers and dark blue was the color for us. So we’ve encouraged the kids to wear blue in their hair, their clothing, and a lot of the staff are wearing ribbons too.”
Students at Poplar Ridge are between kindergarten and Grade 6 and Czainski said most of them are old enough to understand why they’re fundraising.
“This community — this school — is very unique. It’s like we’re a family here.”
Czainski said because of the close-knit community there has been a history of people making donations just when they happened to be on their way past the school or were picking up their child.
“When people hear about what’s going on they come in and make donations.”
Everybody at the school, including every one of the 166 students, had an opportunity to participate in some way whether it was monetary or taking part in wearing blue.
Czainski pointed out that 100% of Mr. Phillips’ Grade 3 class donated, dressed up and took part in the fundraiser.
“The students in his class have a connection to him and when it’s this close to home people want to help out.”
Phillips has been at Poplar Ridge school for nearly 20 years and has made some close friends at the school who are all rooting for him to get better.
Last years’ fun raiser raised $2,700 for the tsunami so Czainski said it was remarkable to watch the money collected in support of someone that the entire school knows and is close to.
“Last year we raised money for the tsunami, and then Mr. Phillips this year. Because it’s so successful and the kids enjoy it we will do it again as long as there is something meaningful that we can attach to it,” said Hanson.
Donations can continue to be made directly to the Central Alberta Cancer Centre in honour of Wayne Phillips’ fight against the disease.