QSoE Students Get Involved with Local Charity

An Idea for Giving Grows

Each session, QSoE organizes a candy grams event to raise funds for a local charity. Students, instructors and staff can purchase a candy gram – piece of candy with a personalized note attached — to have delivered to others within QSoE. It is quite popular, and makes everyone feel good. The class which sells the most candy grams gets to designate the charity that will receive the money raised by all classes.

For Amie Pilgrim’s 140 class, one of the homework assignments was for each student to research a charity and present to the class what this charity does and who it serves. Students presented on a variety of charities, some of which raised money in other locations for both people and animals. The class then voted on which charity they would support if they had the opportunity (if they raised the most money via candy grams).

kysThe class collectively decided that, if given the opportunity, they would like to support Kingston Youth Shelter. Several members of the class explained that as a class, they felt that they could best support this charity because they could easily relate to who it serves (youth of similar ages to themselves), and they liked the idea of keeping the money raised within the local community.

When Amie’s class did not get to designate the charity which would receive the candy gram money (Rasha’s class 150 sold the most candy grams), she didn’t want to just suddenly abandon the momentum that had been built up through the presentations and discussions about different charities. She decided to ask the class if they would like to continue their discussions and work on a project involving helping Kingston Youth Shelter. They decided that this was something they would like to do, and began brainstorming how they could help.

Helping Kingston Youth Shelter

The class decided to host a café in early November as one part of their project. They worked together to create posters and advertisements, coordinated supplies, and managed sales as they served hot beverages and treats to student and staff in the Duncan McArthur Hall. They managed to raise $225 to donate to Kingston Youth Shelter!cafe

In addition to the café, the class organized a donation collection area in QSoE for winter clothing items and school supplies for the youth in the shelter. They were surprised to receive so many winter clothing items – numerous bags full – and will continue the collection until November 30, 2016.

Real Projects for Real Learning

In addition to working together to plan and coordinate the café and clothing/supplies donation drive, Amie’s class gained a deeper perspective into the history and operations of Kingston Youth Shelter via a class trip and tour of the shelter, and through a discussion held in their classroom with Executive Director of the Shelter, Jason Beaubiah.

The class prepared a list of questions for discussion with Jason, and learned that the shelter provides several different services to Kingston youth: emergency overnight shelter, transition shelter for up to a year, and family communications support services. It was interesting to learn that Kingston Youth Shelter began with volunteers 16 years ago, with the intention of operating for only 6 months. Also, unique to Kingston is this statistic: Of the youth using Canadian shelters, 50% are males; however, in the Kingston Youth Shelter, 70% of the youth using the shelter are male.bunks

Amie’s class also learned that making real, meaningful projects happen as a group is loads of fun. They said that they’ve gained valuable planning skills through coordinating these events, and have learned a lot about delegating tasks. Students agreed that working as a group brought them awareness regarding their own strengths and areas for improvement, and helped them to appreciate other peoples’ creativity. For some students from developing nations, discovering that even ‘rich countries’ such as Canada have issues around housing was surprising, but also strangely comforting and unifying.

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Thanksgiving Holiday

This weekend, many QSoE students will have their first experience of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. When Thanksgiving was mentioned to some students, their first thoughts were of excitement for Black Friday, and the spectacular deals shoppers may find. However, Black Friday is a distinctly American phenomenon which coincides with Thanksgiving weekend in the United States. Although they celebrate the holiday in a very similar way, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday in November. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

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Cornucopia or ‘Horn of Plenty’ – a symbol of abundance and nourishment associated with Thanksgiving Day

Canadians have been officially celebrating Thanksgiving Day since 1879, when Parliament proclaimed it as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. The practice of having a special feast in thanks and celebration of the harvest at this time of the year has been a tradition of First Nations and Native American tribes, and of peasant societies in Europe for long before any records of Europeans holding formal harvest celebrations. One of the earliest recorded dates of such an organized celebration by European members of society dates to 1578 when explorers in the Arctic wrote of their harvest celebration during this time of the year!

In the United States, much of the origin of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday is attributed to the Pilgrims (early European settlers in Massachusetts) who celebrated their first harvest with a feast of freshly harvested North American foods. These foods likely included wild fowl (such as turkey, grouse, duck, or goose), indigenous berries and nuts, seafood, and foods which Native Americans were cultivating such as corn, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, and onions.

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Wild Turkeys

Today, both Canadians and Americans typically celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a day off of work/school, travelling to be with family and close friends, and honoring the blessings of their lives by sharing a feast including dishes such as a whole roasted turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin or apple pie. Roasting a turkey is something that is usually only done on Thanksgiving Day, though sometimes at Christmas or Easter as well. Although there are wild turkeys living in Ontario (which can be hunted and eaten), generally people buy domestically-raised turkeys from the grocery store, or from a local farmer.

We would love to hear about your experiences and see your photos of Thanksgiving Day celebrations! Email soe@queensu.ca to share.