Seven Oaks School Division students are making change with their spare change.
The school division is teaming up with the Winnipeg Avenue-based Mondetta Charity Foundation (MCF) for Spare Change for Brains, a fundraising initiative aimed at improving access to educational programming and services for students in Winnipeg and abroad.
Proceeds from the October coin collecting effort will go towards Wayfinders — a SOSD after-school tutoring/mentorship program — and the construction of new classroom space in Kamwokya Primary School, a Mondetta-supported school in Uganda.
"We wanted recapture a UNICEF-style campaign that used to exist around Halloween, but the parents we talked to weren’t comfortable with sending kids door-to-door, so it’s a classroom collection of spare change throughout the month of October," says Brian O’Leary, division superintendent.
"We’re hoping to raise a significant amount of change that’s just sitting in people’s sock drawers."
From Oct. 7 to 11, students were encouraged to donate a nickel a day to the cause, with the coin amount increasing every week (dimes through Oct. 14 to 18, quarters through Oct. 21 to 25 and then on Halloween, a loonie or a toonie).
Parents and community members are encouraged to donate as well, with receptacles located in each office in the division’s schools, as well as the board office, located at 830 Powers St. Donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt.
Also, there will be two community spare change drives — one on Oct. 19 at the Canadian Tire in Garden City Shopping Centre and another on Oct. 20 at the Sobeys at 2575 Main St., both running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students from the Wayfinders program will be on hand, as well as representatives from MCF.
MCF was started in 2004 by brothers Prashant and Ash Modha, their uncle Kish Modha and Raj Bahl, the four principal members of the Mondetta Clothing Company, all of whom hail from East Africa.
"They just really wanted to give back to their first home," says Danielle Loewen, Kish Modha’s executive assistant.
"They had gone back and seen how awful it was and remembered from their own experiences and from family experiences what it was like and how desperate a situation it still is, and how increasingly impacted a lot of these communities are, particularly from the AIDS epidemic."
Kamwokya is a 1,400-student complex located in the slums of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
"We provide tuition for the students and we provide lunch," Loewen says. "Before we stepped in, only the kids who could pay would get lunches. For some of the students this is the only food they’ll get all day, because they come from such poor families. We also provide uniforms. Again, for some of the students, this is the only clothing they have."
Loewen notes that all the money raised through Spare Change will go directly to Kamwokya and Wayfinders, with MCF and the school division covering administration fees.
At home, O’Leary says Wayfinders is "significantly boosting graduation rates" at the division’s schools.
"Whether kids are living in poverty in Africa or here, it has nothing to do with their ability and potential," O’Leary says. "That’s part of the slogan ‘Spare Change for Brains.’ These are bright kids, both here and in Africa, and a little spare change can help them develop and reach their potential."