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Students taking patchwork approach to charity

MBCI Grade 7s hold host of fundraisers to build Kenyan school, including quilt creation

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MBCI Grade 7 teacher Shawna McDowell and students Royan Reimer, Annalise Neufeld, and Khali McDowell are shown with their quilt project.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

MBCI Grade 7 teacher Shawna McDowell and students Royan Reimer, Annalise Neufeld, and Khali McDowell are shown with their quilt project. Photo Store

Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute Grade 7 students are looking to help build a school in Kenya, brick by brick.

And they’re looking to raise money by making a quilt, patch by patch.

Organizing teacher Shawna McDowell had her students design a human-rights-themed square or two for the quilt, which was slated to be auctioned off at the school’s annual benefit dinner at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg on May 2.

The quilt sold for $5,200, of which half went to the class’ efforts, bringing its total to $3,285 this year.

Over the course of approximately six weeks, students designed their squares, and then educational assistant Lori Brooks sewed all the pieces together to make the quilt.
McDowell, a St. James resident, said the work impressed others in the school.

"The development committee asked me if we would like to donate it as part of a live auction," she said. "I asked the class, and they were super-excited about that, the fact that somebody might want to buy this piece and have it in their house."

McDowell explained one major point in her classes is the right to education, and her students were enthusiastic about fundraising to build a school through Free the Children. They chose to fundraise for Kenya, as a group of older students goes on a volunteer tour to that country annually.

"Some kids would get bumped and mess up the square, and they would get all mad and they’d have to redo their square," she said. "It was incredible to me the thought process that went into it for some kids. I’d be giving them ideas, and they’d be saying ‘No, that’s just not good enough.’"

The students brought up the importance of diversity in their work, which was itself diverse. Annalise Neufeld’s square reads ‘A person is a person, no matter what race,’ Royan Reimer highlighted the importance of one’s true colours, and Khali McDowell fashioned a handprint into a black-and-white dove.

"I hope (the buyer) can see all the words on it and be touched," Reimer said.

The class hopes the quilt will help push the class closer to its goal of raising $1,600 for the project. It has already held a lemonade sale and bake sale, and they’ve made bracelets in order to fill the coffers. One student asked for donations in lieu of presents for her birthday, while another gave her entire iPad Mini savings fund to the cause. A garage sale will be held at the school on May 10, and a pancake breakfast is being discussed.

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