École Willows elementary kids rally to help animals

Classmates take initiative to help out Victoria SPCA

Willows elementary Grade 5 students Olivia Osborne

Willows elementary Grade 5 students Olivia Osborne

Inside the principal’s office at École Willows elementary, four young classmates become animated, smiling as they recall the process of putting together a fundraiser.

Though the event, which collected pet food and money for Victoria’s SPCA shelter, was completed two weeks ago, it’s evident their enthusiasm for the charity continues as their story snippets overlap each other.

“We decided that would be cool, trying to collect money (for the shelter),” says Jessie Troughton, 10, describing how the idea came about at a play date.

Jessie, Olivia Osborne, 11, and 10 year olds Simi O’Rourke and Alisa Lyesina, all students in Jessica Caplette’s Grade 5 French immersion class, may simply be your normal, chatty pre-teen girls. But that excitement is part of the beauty of young people getting behind a cause: their energy often overcomes any logistical challenges.

Like the one that arose when they considered holding a raffle.

“We found out that you have to have a gaming licence to do that,” Olivia says.

The girls brainstormed and determined they would simply encourage fellow students to donate cans or cash for the cause. Of course, there was more to it than that.

Students were each given a ticket for a draw – if they wore the school’s colours, red and white, on that day, they received two. The tickets offered a chance to win one of more than a dozen prizes collected by Simi at businesses around Oak Bay.

Spurred on by daily announcements over the school’s P.A. from the young organizers, classes held canned pet food drives, while individual students tackled their own projects.

One boy brought in the proceeds from his birthday toonie party, while another raised more than $20 selling their own artwork.

In all, Simi says, more than 130 cans were collected and more than $400 in cash. “Our goal was $250,” she says with a luminescent smile.

For their own pets, one of the girls has a dog, another has a cat and a third has a fish. After visiting the shelter and interacting with the animals following the campaign, each was left feeling that their efforts were appreciated.

Jessie colourfully describes a talking parrot who followed directions well.

And the girls smile again.