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Students hard at work supporting causes

Students gather in the Athletic and Recreation Complex for the annual Shine Day. (Supplied Photo)
Students gather in the Athletic and Recreation Complex for the annual Shine Day. (Supplied Photo)

It may be early into the new academic year but Queen’s students are already hard at work in the classroom and in the community.

”We are proud of the work that so many students are doing to improve their communities,” says Palmer Lockridge (Artsci'17), the Alma Mater Society’s Vice-President (University Affairs). “Queen’s students have a long and proud tradition of volunteerism and leading the way on fundraising and community involvement. They recognize that they are members of a broader community while at Queen’s and have a responsibility to contribute meaningfully.”

Soon after the new group of students arrived for the fall term, garishly attired engineering students fanned out into the broader Kingston area selling chocolate covered nuts in partnership with four local Rotary Clubs. This year’s “Go Nuts” fundraiser brought in $20,000 in support of a number of local charities.

The engineering students were also busy in late September with their annual “Fix’n’Clean” volunteering effort. About 360 students gave up their time to help Kingston residents in need of assistance over a weekend in September. In total, the group helped 70 members of the community with some yard work, painting, organizing, and cleaning, and they plan to do it again this winter.

"Through my position within EngSoc I have the unique opportunity of witnessing the full breadth of the events we organize to do our part in giving back,” says Jordan Pernari (Sc'19), Director of Community Outreach with the Engineering Society. “Whether it was by raising over $4,000 during our Terry Fox Run, having over 100 people join the Canadian Blood Service’s stem cell database, or doubling the number of volunteers participating in Fix’n’Clean this year from last year, our students’ kindness truly knows no bounds. I’m amazed by the overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response we’ve seen so far."

Also in September, the Shinerama Campaign at Queen’s got underway as part of national university-based campaigns supporting cystic fibrosis research. The campaign includes the annual Sidewalk Sale; Shine Day, which formally introduces first-years to the campaign; and a tour of the town. Campaign organizer Leah Slater (Artsci’18) with the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society says it has been a ‘successful year’ and announced a total of $96,817.34 on October 29.

One recently concluded student campaign was organized by the MBA student Charity Gala Team. Their campaign runs through the spring and summer culminates in a gala event at the end of August. This year’s campaign, in support of St. Vincent de Paul Society Kingston, raised over $20,000 – far exceeding the campaign goal of $15,000.

“It was a really positive experience and I joked that I would love to come back next year and participate again,” says Elizabeth Pratt (MBA’18), who chaired the campaign. “One of the reasons this year’s campaign was so successful is that we were able to bring the community into the campaign and drive more attendance from outside Queen’s. I hope future classes keeps building on that reputation.”

Many other clubs and groups on campus are getting organized for their charitable and community activities in the year ahead. MEDLIFE Queen’s is one group you can expect to hear from this semester, as President Rachael Allen (Artsci’18) says the club has seven fundraising events planned in the next few months. Proceeds from their campaign will support the MEDLIFE Project Fund, which is used to supply mobile clinics with medical supplies and resources for preventative medicine and medical treatment as well as development projects. The club also recruits and prepares student volunteers to head out on service trips to countries like Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, and India.

Queen’s is also home to the only university chapter of Helping Haiti. The club works to build awareness and fundraise in support of their mother organization, with proceeds supporting first aid training, women’s self-defense and empowerment classes, a medical clinic, and the construction of community resources such as a water tower and community centre in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Haiti’s capital. Co-President Devyn Willis (Artsci’18) say, among their fundraising plans, the club will host workshops called “Tammy Talks” – discussions by the founder of Helping Haiti on her work and experience.

You will also start to see the Room to Read Queen’s Chapter kick into high gear in November as part of their annual ‘Literacy Awareness Week’. The club is affiliated with the international not-for-profit which focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in many developing countries. Co-Chairs Crista Leung (Con.Ed’18) and Kathleen Waterston (Artsci’19) say you can expect to see Room to Read’s literacy awareness campaign around campus, including posters and sales. Their biggest fundraiser takes place in January in Stauffer Library, as club members camp out as part of their “Live-in-for-Literacy” initiative.

For a full listing of clubs at Queen’s, including the many charitable clubs and their fundraising and volunteering efforts, visit myams.org/clubs-directory.