On April 19 and 20, the students and staff of Canadian Martyrs elementary school in the York Catholic District School Board enjoyed a Harvey’s lunch together to raise money for ShareLife. Photo courtesy of ShareLife

ShareLife parish campaign brings out the best in students

By 
  • May 25, 2018

About 20 students at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School stayed after school every day last week — and it had nothing to do with being punished.

As it turned out, quite the opposite. They worked tirelessly making booths and signs, making last-minute calls to community vendors and organizing volunteer teams to make sure that everything ran smoothly for the school’s annual Carnival Day. 

Every year, the Thornhill, Ont., school celebrates the warm weather and raises money for ShareLife’s parish campaign. On May 18, students spent the morning in the classroom and then flocked to the courtyard for games, barbecue, popcorn and live music. 

“We want to show our young people how fun it can be to come together as a community and give,” said St. Elizabeth chaplain Ines Mancuso.

ShareLife is the charitable fundraising arm of the Archdiocese of Toronto. It supports 42 Catholic agencies and special projects that help families, immigrants, the elderly, people with special needs and many other vulnerable members of the community.

May 27 is ShareLife Sunday where parishes appeal to their congregations to support the good works that are taking place across the archdiocese. 

This year’s parish campaign goal is $13.6 million.

Tim Lee Loy, ShareLife’s schools and employees campaign co-ordinator, said it’s always exciting when a school goes above and beyond.

“What I love about ShareLife is that it’s a grassroots thing where schools choose to raise money based on their community,” said Lee Loy. 

“It’s almost become a tradition in the schools…. ShareLife has become a part of growing up in a Catholic school.”

Recently, Lee Loy presented a plaque to the Toronto Catholic District School Board for raising a record $100,000 in 160 of its almost 200 schools last year, a giant leap from the $20,000 raised from 40 schools the previous year.

About 94 per cent of schools in the York Catholic District School Board, including St. Elizabeth, organize events for ShareLife every year, while in the Durham Catholic District School Board there is 100 per cent participation.

St. Elizabeth has a long history of supporting ShareLife. 

In December, homeroom classes put together a Christmas basket for needy families in Covenant House Toronto and Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers. Also, as part of the Religion curriculum, the school hosts Heartbeat Days where various ShareLife agencies facilitate workshops about the multitude of services they provide to the vulnerable in the community. 

“If we, Catholics, don’t educate our young people about the preferential option for the poor that Jesus tried to teach us, we’re going to have a generation that doesn’t care,” said Mancuso. “It’s a very secular and individualistic world that our students live in and if we don’t teach them the importance of giving, I think they’re going to miss out on that.”

Mancuso said that ShareLife and its agencies are part of the everyday life of their school community. A part of why fundraising is so important at the school is because there are many students who benefit from the services that ShareLife agencies provide. 

“There are a lot of poor in our community. Some of our (Christmas) baskets go to some of the needy families in our school,” said Mancuso. “We have had students that use Covenant House or Rose of Sharon for girls who have kept their babies…. I don’t think the community at large knows this, but I know that we (the staff) know that.”

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