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Montreal non-profit group raises funds to support special needs students

Click to play video: 'Christmas baskets for charity' Christmas baskets for charity
WATCH: Volunteers at a local non-profit group are raising funds by making Christmas baskets to help support programs for student with autism at the Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal North as well as Light A Dream in Pointe-Claire. The process of raising money is also a way for the students to learn how to help themselves. Global's Phil Carpenter explains. – Nov 29, 2021

Volunteers at a Montreal non-profit group are trying to raise funds to help support programs for special needs students.

Friends 4 Cause, a non-profit foundation which helps community organizations, is creating gift baskets for sale at its store in Montreal North.

“Because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do any galas, so we opened this little store here on Fleury [Street],” explained Alfonso Coscia, Friends 4 Cause foundation vice-president.

All the profits from their goods and holiday basket sales go to support programs for students with autism at two places: the Galileo Adult Education Centre in Montreal-North as well as Light A Dream, a non-profit charity in Pointe-Claire.

Read more: English Montreal School Board votes to move Galileo Adult Educational Centre

“We offer our young adults vocational training and skill development in a real world of work setting,” said Andrea Bertalan, president of Light A Dream.

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Galileo has a similar program.

Officials from the two institutions pointed out, however, that the students aren’t just benefiting from the money raised.

Having them in the store creating the baskets is an extension of their training.

“So they get to apply what they learn in class over here, in a work setting,” Galileo teacher Julie Mancini told Global News. “How to follow a schedule, how to follow a certain sequence, how to socially interact, they also learn how to welcome customers.”

Four students, including Tania Iacono, are working at the store. They started making the baskets in October.

“I’m here four days a week,” she said, on a break from making the baskets. “I’m here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.”

Read more: How Montreal non-profits are transforming the ways they raise funds

The baskets come in different sizes and the contents vary and range in price from $20 to $150.

Friends 4 Cause has been raising money to help autism programs for four years.

According to Coscia, they’re halfway to their fundraising target for this year.

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“Our first year we raised $14,000,” Coscia said. “This year our goal is $50,000 and we’re at $23,000.”

They hope to beat that target in the next few weeks.

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