James Wlasitz, grade 8 student at NVSS. (Submitted photo)

COVID-19: Vanderhoof teen donates money to a non-profit after class trip gets cancelled

Since Fall 2019 James Wlasitz was raising money for a class trip to Jasper.

A grade 8 Vanderhoof student who put in a lot of effort to raise money for his class trip to Jasper, decided to instead donate that money to the COVID 2020 fitness challenge organized by the Vanderhoof Community Foundation, as the trip had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

James Wlasitz, grade 8 student at NVSS is part of the Vanderhoof 899 Air Cadet squadron and holds the rank of Flight Corporal. Aside from his dedication to the program, he is also working towards achieving the Duke of Edinburgh International Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award instills in their cadets a sense of community service, learning new skills, citizenship, being physically active and exploring the world and more. So for the community service aspect of the award, James decided in the Fall of 2019 that he would raise money for their class trip to Jasper.

As the trip cost each student $350, he realized that some students may not be able to afford the trip, so he started with selling items from donations and around his home on Facebook. The money he collected was given to Nechako Valley Secondary School in an account labelled “money for others to go to Jasper.”

But when the trip was cancelled due to the virus pandemic, James had to decide where he could donate the money he had collected.

In the meantime, Mia Moutray, NVSS teacher had signed up her grade 8 students into the fitness challenge undertaken by the Vanderhoof Community Foundation. She hadn’t asked any student to donate to the challenge, instead just wanted to encourage being active.

READ MORE: Vanderhoof has its own fitness challenge amidst COVID-19

James thought it would be best to donate the money ($900) to the foundation as he would then keep the money in Vanderhoof, and would be supporting his class in the challenge as well.

“I feel good about the donation and proud that the money will do good for the community,” he said.

Moutray told the Omineca Express that James put in a lot of effort on his own time selling toys, clothing and other items to raise money for himself and another grade eight student.

“He is setting a great example of being a community member and thinking of others, it’s so impressive,” she said.

Kathie LaForge, president of the Vanderhoof Community Foundation said the non-profit had specifically structured the event to make sure it was inclusive for all ages, requesting a minimal donation per team.

“This is a significant donation from anyone and even more surprising when it comes from a young person,” she said.

“It is very heart warming to know that a young teenager understands the importance of charity in our society and I think it reflects on these values being promoted in his home.”

Since the start of the COVID 2020 Fitness challenge, in just over two weeks the Vanderhoof Community Foundation has received $3660 in donations. This amount does not include James’ donation.

LaForge said there are new contributions coming in every day as new teams and team members join. Some teams have sponsors who are donating based on kilometres or other measures of physical activity, so the organization is anticipating that those donations will be received after the event ends on May 20.

These funds collected as part of the challenge are going to be deposited into the foundation’s Endowment Fund.

“This Fund is invested and the return on the investments, is available to us to provide grants to community groups to support projects that will make Vanderhoof and Area a better place to live, work and play,” LaForge said.

Meanwhile, the Vanderhoof Community Foundation is currently reviewing applications they have received for their 2020 Grant cycle and will be announcing recipients in the weeks to come.

Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express


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Wlasitz in his uniform at the Vanderhoof Co-op Mall. (Submitted photo)

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