KELOWNA – From cooking up soup and hot dogs for lunch, to offering donated toiletries and clothing, a group of grade 12 students from Mount Boucherie Secondary are spending some of their final days in high school getting to know Kelowna’s homeless population.
“We thought it was a big issue in our community and there are people that need to be recognized just like us,” says Alana Ensign, a grade 12 student.
It’s all part of the school’s social justice course. The students have been preparing for this day at the Kelowna Gospel Mission for many weeks.
“It took us about one or two months to plan this all,” says Gage Bishop, a grade 12 student.
“It was basically just a class vote and most of us pointed towards homelessness,” says Jaeden Holz, a grade 11 student.
Once the class agreed on their cause, they got the entire school involved.
“We did this by giving a box to every class in our school and they donated items that we told them would go towards the homeless, and the class that donated the most won a pizza party,” says Ensign.
The Gospel Mission has dozens of volunteers helping to run the organization year-round but emergency services manager, Phil Whatman, says this initiative by these Mount Boucherie students is extraordinary.
“It’s very rare, I mean, students will do small things like donations or projects… this is different with [them] coming down and making a meal and that’s pretty awesome,” says Whatman.
It’s a standout class project for the students as well.
“You’re actually meeting them and you actually get to hear some of their stories as well and you actually see some of them are coming in here and it’s not their choice to be out here,” says Mcnolty.
Their teacher, Jason Hudson, says this particular class project isn’t being graded.
“They’re doing something that they probably wouldn’t ever do without this course. It’s something that’s going to open up their eyes and next time they drive downtown Kelowna and they see a homeless person, hopefully they’ll have a bit more respect for them,’ says Hudson.
He hopes the experience will leave a longer lasting mark for the students.