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Students give Holiday Hope to local kids

By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer 

 Connor Ritchie, Megan Judges, Katie Shaw and Kyle Beaudry helped organize the Holiday Hope event.

Nearly 200 local children and their parents will have something to open on Christmas day this year thanks to the efforts of students in the Bachelor of Commerce program at Queen’s. Their Holiday Hope campaign engages students in purchasing and wrapping gifts for underprivileged children and teenagers in the Kingston community. This year’s initiative gathered 183 gifts that were passed on for distribution by Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

“A lot of us get caught up in our classes and conferences, or get focused on trying to get a job, and we forget sometimes about giving back to the community,” says Kyle Beaudry, a third year student and Outreach Commissioner with the Queen’s Commerce Society. “It’s rewarding and fun to realize you made someone’s Christmas that much better, and that it didn’t take that much work – just a collective effort and good planning.”

Mr. Beaudry says the Holiday Hope campaign started four years ago as a small way for Commerce students, as well as faculty and staff, to give back to the community. Participants receive a letter with the names, ages and wish lists of the children they have agreed to sponsor. The Commerce Society contributes $25 to each gift, and participants are asked to match or exceed that donation.

This year’s campaign saw 100 students board two school buses for a group shopping trip on a Saturday morning. “We took Walmart by storm,” laughs Mr. Beaudry.

 Students load wrapped gifts onto a truck for delivery. 

A coffee house event (with music and entertainment by Queen’s Commerce Performing Arts) provided the venue for participants to wrap presents and write cards to the recipients, with a representative from Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington on-hand to accept the gifts for distribution.

“These kinds of initiatives make a big difference for these children,” says Terri Bethune, Volunteer Coordinator with the not-for-profit agency that supports an average of 1000 families and young people who are considered at risk. “It helps make sure that there’s a little extra under the tree. In some cases, it’s all they will be getting. The kids and their parents really appreciate it, and the students really go above and beyond for them.”

Mr. Beaudry says each year the Queen’s Commerce Society aims to support more children. He is pleased and surprised by the amount of interest his peers have shown in the initiative. “Last year they supported 120. The goal this year was 150 and we collected 183. I bet we can do even better next year.”

Watch a Holiday Hope promotional video created by Commerce students.