It's the season of giving — and that's exactly what some M.E LaZerte high school students are doing.
The school's student interact club is helping fellow students, whose families are struggling during the holiday season, by resuming its annual Helping Hampers campaign and launching a GoFundMe page.
So far, students have raised over $7,000, said Michelle Sabourin, head of the leadership department at M.E LaZerte.
"A lot of that goes to supporting the families who are in need, just like in this holiday time," Sabourin said while on CBC's Radio Active earlier this week.
About 60 M.E. LaZerte students regularly go without food and other necessities, the school says. So, the Helping Hampers campaign focuses on meeting those families' individual needs.
The hampers are filled with necessities instead of holiday specific items, because not everyone celebrates Christmas. This year, families in need received a grocery list to choose items from.
The club can assist with providing Christmas gifts, however, if that's needed too, Sabourin said, adding there is no cookie-cutter model for helping each family.
Some hampers have already been delivered to families, but many other families will receive their hampers in the new year.
"Late January is just as hard on families, if not harder than December," Sabourin explained.
All the hampers are delivered in person, giving the M.E. LaZerte counselling team the opportunity to not only have a positive interaction, but to also let the families know they have support.
Adopt-a-teen program added
Seeing the success of the campaign, the student interact club expanded the project to include an Adopt-a-teen program.
The program asks individuals and businesses to buy gift cards for stores where teenagers can shop. The school will anonymously forward the gift cards to students in need.
The Adopt-a-teen program will extend past the holiday season and continue throughout the school year.
Club builds community connection
M.E. LaZerte school's student interact club is a student-run organization, sponsored by the Rotary Club of northeast Edmonton, that focuses on leadership skills.
Hemes Temraz, a Grade 12 student and club president, says the club helps get people involved in the community.
"They really give us a ton of opportunities to learn how to be good leaders, to get involved in the community, to learn how to be volunteers for life," Temraz said.
"Rotary connects us with the community and it helps us get the donations, and also gain their support."
LISTEN | Helping Hampers program: