An area teen is hoping for an outpouring of community support to help her travel and help plant philanthropic roots in South America.
On Sat., March 2, Ashley Bonkowski will host a bowling fundraiser at the Academy Lanes in St. James to raise $1,000 towards a volunteer trip to Ecuador’s Chimborazo province.
The Grade 11 John Taylor Collegiate student is hoping to travel to the country at the end of July as part of Me to We, part of Free the Children, which organizes WE Day events for youth across the country.
There, she’ll spend 14 days exploring the Amazon rainforest, take in local cultural traditions, learn about indigenous and environmental issues, rub shoulders with local women’s groups, and help build a school.
It’ll be her first trip outside of Canada by herself.
"I’m expecting to be shocked," Bonkowski said in between classes last week.
"I know how it is (like there), but to feel that perspective first-hand," will be quite different, she added.
"Even if I can help a little, I can help a lot."
Bonkowski signed up for the trip after volunteering for WE Day earlier this year, and is getting a crash course in business basics to fund the $3,800 trip. She’s held bake sales, and is planning an upcoming pasta dinner and car wash in the spring to add to her fundraising tally. She’s also gone as far as taking on a part-time job at a local restaurant to help pay her way.
"Last year I was very shy," she admitted. "Now, I’m talking to as many people as possible."
Bonkowski said she is also looking forward to getting to know the women in the places she will be staying, and learning about the daily experiences of their life by helping with household chores and making fair-trade jewelry.
Bonkowski will be travelling with about 20 to 30 other youth from across Canada.
She hopes to share her experiences with the community when she returns.
"We’ll always make a difference by working together," she said.
Bowling To Ecuador will take place Sat., March 2 at Academy Lanes at 479 Westwood Dr. from 7 to 9 p.m.
Tickets are $20, and include endless bowling, popcorn and pop.
There will also be several themed silent auction prizes, including a baby package, a date night package, and jewelry from Canadian jewelry maker Dean Davidson.
For more info, or to purchase tickets, call 204-897-6694 or email email@example.com.
Bonkowski also has an online pledge page at http://tinyurl.com/AB-Ecuador.