Friday, May 22, 2009
Giving back to the community with Free the Children Foundation
On May 31st, I'll be donating my services to help to publicize the important volunteer work of some of Ottawa's own young teens Maddie Wright, Hannah Wiens, Marieke Bergman and Cara Schacter. Theses Girls are making a difference in the world along with Cara's inspirational older sister Alyse, donating their time and efforts toward FTC (Free the Children. Here is the article from the Glebe Report, Volume 39 No.4.:
Three teens, $20,000 dollars and two schools
Last summer, three friends were discussing how to mark their 16th birthdays.
Glebites Cara Schacter, Hannah Wiens and Maddie Wright spend most
of their time together and it only seemed natural that their sweet sixteen be
equally joint. Inspired by Cara’s older sister, Alyse, who had raised money for
the Make A Wish Foundation for her 16th birthday party, they decided to celebrate
16 years of good fortune by raising money for Free the Children (FTC).
FTC is a remarkable Canadian charity that has built 500 schools now serving
50,000 children. The girls knew that it would take $8,500 to build a school, but
they were undaunted.
By fall, the girls had contacted Marc Kielburger, chief executive director
of FTC and told him they were going to raise the $8,500 required to build a
school in the third world. After much discussion, the girls decided to build
their school in Sri Lanka. They also got in touch with a New York-based company
(owned by Cara’s great aunt) called Love Quotes, which supports children’s
charities, and pitched the idea to the CEO. She is a strong believer in
the Hebrew concept of “Tikkun Alam,” which means repair of the world, so to
encourage the girls she told them that Love Quotes would match their efforts
dollar for dollar up to $10,000.
School had started and so had the baking. The girls first event was a bake
sale, held at the Glebe Community Centre in November. It took three kitchens,
two months of baking, three freezers and three days of selling, but after the
dishes were finally washed up, the girls had raised their first $1,500. They were
delighted with the results and undertook their next fundraising project with
December and January were spent talking to sponsors. After a generous offer
from Flat Rock Winery, the girls had event number two. Dozens of donation
requests later, the girls had invited 100 people to their “Wine Tasting Fundraising
Event.” It was going to be an elegant, adult evening. Having never been to
a wine tasting, the three fifteen years olds had no idea what to expect – but they
were confident as donations kept flying in, both metaphorically and literally:
Mike White, a Calgary-based wine vendor flew in to run the tasting. And Phyllis
Wiener, their corporate sponsor, flew in from the Big Apple. As it turned
out, it was, as one attendee remarked, “a neighbourhood soirée in the true Ottawa
tradition: the names on the bid forms and the faces in the crowd included
a member of Parliament, a Senator (the legislative kind, not a hockey player),
and the long-ago founder of a local rock music station.”
The food, all donated by local caterers, was superb. Some of the featured
foods were served courtesy of Thyme and Again, Pelican Fishery and Grill, Il
Negozio Nicastro and Gourmet to Go. Essence Catering went all out donating
$2,000 worth of hot and cold appetizers and displaying them on individual
serving platters like an art installation.
The event was complete with a 50 piece silent auction, a true testament to
the girls perseverance and this city’s generous vendors. The auction included
original art by Christopher Griffin, photographs by Lux et Veritas, jewelry by
PIKA , Keens from Glebe Trotters and restaurant certificates from some of
the city’s finest dinning establishments – locals like the New Nupur, Infusion
Bistro, the Urban Pear, Taj Mahal and La Strada generously donated gift certificates
along with Luxe Bistro, The Wellington Gastro Pub and Junipers, to
name a few.
Another highlight was the talk by Marieke Bergman, Free The Children’s
international youth coordinator. She told the story of Craig Kielburger, who
co-founded the organization in 1995, at the age of 12, after running across a
news story on child labour. He was looking for the comic section in his local
paper when he read that Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old from Pakistan, had been
shot to death for leading protests against child slavery in the carpet trade, from
which he had escaped at age 10.
Their evening gathering raised over $9,000! The three teen philanthropists
are heading into the home stretch of this project with over $20,000 raised. They
will be hosting their joint Sweet-Sixteen party in May for 400 of their closest
friends and following in Alyse’s footsteps, instead of presents, each guest will
be asked to contribute money and extend a hand to repair the world.
“Despite all the differences between us and children in Sri Lanka, going to
school is something we relate to,” – Hannah, Maddie and Cara.