February 13, 2017 8:07 pm
Updated: February 13, 2017 9:06 pm

Valentine’s Day fundraiser aims to ‘share the love’ for Quebec’s only autism-specific school

WATCH ABOVE: Montreal’s only school dedicated to autistic children, Giant Steps School, is hoping to raise $400,000 as part of its Valentine’s Day fundraiser. As Global's Anne Leclair reports, it’s part of the school’s tuition-free, non-profit mandate.

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Parents, teachers and administrators are teaming up for a fundraiser for their beloved school Giant Steps. It’s the only autism-specific school in the province and it needs to raise one million dollars a year just to make ends meet.

“We do receive public funds it covers about 60-70 percent of our operating costs so we need to fundraise a significant amount of money every year just to offer our basic services,” said Giant Steps school director Seiun Thomas Henderson.

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Actor and television host Charles Lafortune is the face behind the 24-hour social media campaign. His 15-year-old son Mathis has been a student for more than a decade.

“This school has changed everything for my son I can’t imagine my son without this school,” said Charles Lafortune. “Eventually I will have to because after 21 he will come back home and there aren’t many services for kids over 21.”

Ninety students attend Giant Steps, Quebec’s only bilingual school devoted to children with autism. But hundreds more are on the waiting list. While school administrators would love to expand, they can’t with the current budgetary restrictions.

All donations will be quadrupled thanks to three major donors including the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Foundation.

“If you give $25 it will show up as $100 and our goal is $400,000 in 24 hours,” Giant Steps Foundation volunteer Elaine Lalonde said.

The fundraiser kicked off at noon on Monday and by 6 p.m. the campaign had already reached half its target.

“When you help our foundation you help the kids, you help their parents, friends, siblings and everyone around them,” Lafortune said.

Donations can be made online at https://www.charidy.com/giantstepsmontreal until noon on Valentine’s Day.

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