A group of young philanthropists from John Stubbs Memorial school recently had the chance to find out the true meaning of a helping hand.
The school’s peer counselling group, made up of 13- and 14-year-olds, helped out at Our Place Society in downtown Victoria, serving desserts and singing songs for patrons of the free meal service.
“They were smiling and they all looked really happy and it was just really nice to see we actually had that affect on people,” said Grade 8 student Jacqueline Hughes.
The group, spearheaded by school counsellor Adrien Brown, is a means to promote volunteer work in students and to give them opportunities to help in the community.
The students sold lollipops and held a coin drive at school to raise money to buy food for Our Place, and then the students went to help serve the food.
“It’s wonderful to engage. The energy totally changes in the place,” Brown said. “People often just come, grab their food, eat and leave, but when we’re there, they stay.”
The students come early to help set up and then typically stay as late as they’re allowed to, interacting with the people and singing songs.
For some students the experience can be eye-opening.
“At first they’re a little self-conscious because they’re not sure,” Brown said. “If they’ve been sheltered, that’s not something they’ve experienced. But pretty quickly, because the adults respond so well to them and are so appreciative … the energy changes.”
Aubry Williams, Grade 8, said he served ice cream to a man who crossed himself and looked into the student’s eyes as a way of saying thank you.
“That just blew me away. He was so thankful for something so small.”
“It really makes you think that not everyone can have everything that they want,” Hughes said. “It really sort of grounds you and makes you realize that the world is not necessarily an easy place to be.”