Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Brookswood students fill Bobcat’s furry paws with love for flood victims

Staff and students at a Langley school collected $3,400 during a five-day Paws for a Cause campaign

By Tanmay Ahluwalia/tanmay.ahluwalia@langleyadvancetimes.com

Communities across B.C. are coming out to help those affected by the floods, a disaster the government is still dealing with.

At a time when community support is needed the most, students and staff at Brookswood Secondary in Langley found a creative way to raise donations for the Abbotsford residents hit hardest by the floods.

Through a five-day-long campaign that started on Dec. 6, the staff and students at Brookswood Secondary raised more than $3,400 in the form of cash and gift cards.

RELATED: B.C., Ottawa to match flood relief donations to Canadian Red Cross

The cash was later used to buy gift certificates, and the school’s English teacher Robin Shantz himself delivered the collected gift cards to the Abbotsford school district.

It all started with a conversation between vice-principal Logan Kitteringham and Shantz about supporting Abbotsford neighbours during the holiday season.

Soon the message was put out through the school’s public address system, encouraging anyone with an idea for a fundraiser to join for a lunchtime meeting.

A committee meeting was called when some students showed interest and offered their ideas.

Close to 20 students came together to form a diverse group of core volunteers and introduced the school’s mascot as the face of the fundraiser. The project was dubbed Paws for a Cause, as it highlighted their goal to fill up both of their bobcat mascot’s furry paws with gift cards.

READ MORE: Envision Financial encouraging people to join relief efforts

“We have some staff members and students who have families in that area, so the issue was sort of personal, too,” said Kitteringham.

Once the fundraiser’s concept was ready, it was time to get the word out.

That’s when two students from the film and television program volunteered to shoot a video to deliver their message with a dash of humour.

“It was amazing to see everyone taking different roles, whether it was advertising in school or on social media. Then we took shifts…promoting the event. Groups of volunteers went around different block A classrooms to collect donations and spread the word,” Kitteringham shared with a proud smile.

“The idea behind collecting gift cards was to provide those affected with a choice to purchase whatever they need based on their circumstances. We requested everyone to donate gift cards from stores that offer items of daily need,” Kitteringham added.

Tarek, a Grade 8 student, said he got involved because one of his extended family members was impacted by the flooding.

“I was a bit skeptical at first and thought it might be difficult for the campaign to get traction. But, the final tally really made me proud to be a bobcat,” Tarek added.

Lexi, another Grade 8 student, didn’t expect the campaign to be this successful.

“I thought we might fill one of the mascot paws, and maybe hit $1,000 in the beginning. But, things really took off during the last two days of the campaign,” she added.

The event ended with a celebration lunch for the volunteers and an award ceremony where students were honoured with Brookswood’s first-ever unsung hero awards. One of the Grade 11 students was praised for donating $160 out of his savings from a part-time job.

“As this pandemic continues to unfold, we are have started layering on even more and more opportunities for students to have that sense of belonging in the school… that they are part of the bobcat country,” Kitteringham said.

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Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Students and staff at Brookswood Secondary showed their Christmas spirit this holiday season, collecting money for gift cards to help those in need in the flood-ravaged neighbouring community of Abbotsford. (Special to Langley Advance Times)