Guest Post: By Bang Ly.
Bang Ly is one of those people that truly defines the spirit of Guelph.
Several years ago he started the Secret Santa Guelph event. Designed to bring the community together to celebrate the season while giving back, Bang has raised several thousand dollars for the Brant Avenue Public School’s Food and Friends Program. This year he’s at it again, and he’s looking for your help.
If you are interested in helping out, Bang has provided details at the bottom of this post.
#SecretSantaGuelph is an annual charity event where Netizens from the Twitterverse come together and donate gift cards from a local supermarket directly to Brant Avenue Public School. 100% of the donation funnels directly into Brant Avenue Public School’s Food and Friends Program which provides a healthy snack for the students throughout the day. The school is located in one of Guelph Ontario’s lowest income neighbourhoods and more often than not, the students come to school without a lunch and very few have the chance to have eaten breakfast. Without extra funding the Food Program is able to provide food three days a week until the end of May. The school year however, ends in June.
This is the reason our event exists.
#SecretSantaGuelph aims to bolster the Food and Friends Program for as long as possible. This is the third year we have run this event and our donations year over year have grown by 60%. We gather our donations by engaging twitter users in Guelph Ontario and nearby townships with an open invitation to a gift exchange and party. The donated gift cards allow the school to easily track their spending and catalogue who spends their money on what. We have even begun receiving donations from corporate sponsors and local business have been using our hashtag to promote our event which is a fantastic leap forward for us. There is still plenty of room to grow.
We know #SecretSantaGuelph is not a solution to the root cause of Brant Avenue Public School’s food issues. We know we are merely addressing the symptoms but our organization is incredibly small. I mean, it’s just me and a handful of amazing Guelph citizens and small businesses who want to help kids not have to worry about adult problems. We have just a few more weeks to raise enough funding to bring the program to five days a week until the end of June.
Brant Avenue Public School has roughly 145 students and as I’m informed by the Principal, 91% of the students at this school are from single parent families and live below the poverty line. We are trying to make this problem more manageable for the students, parents and staff at this school while shining a light on a problem that people may have heard about but had not known just how close to home it hits. As of the writing of this post, we have received enough funding to provide food for Brant Avenue Public School for four days a week until the end of June. We are roughly $3000 short of making a full week of food available until the end of June. We still have time. We still have hope. All we need is the help.