Two of the WestShore Centre for Learning’s volunteer staff from a year ago

Two of the WestShore Centre for Learning’s volunteer staff from a year ago

Fundraiser allows students to attend graduation

WestShore Centre for Learning Christmas tree sale raised $10,000 last year to cover grad costs

If you’re as picky as Clark Griswold when it comes to selecting that perfect Christmas Tree, the WestShore Centre for Learning has a great solution, and you don’t have to worry about bringing your own saw.

The Centre’s annual Christmas tree fundraiser kicks off Thursday (Dec. 1) and runs through to Dec. 13, featuring fresh cut trees from Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm, with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to the school.

As a bonus, the centre has a wide variety of sizes and species, meaning there should be a tree for just about everyone.

Uniquely, the fundraiser has been organized completely by students, right down to the fine details such as social media marketing and making crafts and ornaments to sell alongside the trees.

“We really wanted it to be a collaborative school project, a teachable moment,” said Debbie Lodewijk, a teacher and volunteer co-ordinator at the WestShore Centre for Learning. “The cool thing about the Christmas tree sale is that it’s become a school-wide thing, so all of our programs and classes have taken on a project and it’s basically like learning how to set up a business.”

The funds raised will go towards ensuring that all students are able to attend graduation and the reception that follows.

In the past, staff noticed that a lot of students – many of them from lower income families – could not afford to attend their own graduation, let alone bring some of their family along to celebrate.

Last year’s debut Christmas tree fundraiser – which raised $10,000 – covered all of the graduation-related costs, ensuring that all students could attend.

“They get their cap and gown and they get to attend the ceremony and reception … we make the ceremony accessible,” Lodewijk said.

Those interested in picking up a tree or shopping for some handcrafted items can stop by the WestShore Centre for Learning’s Colwood Campus (2139 Sooke Rd., just north of Royal Roads) from Dec. 1 to 13. Staff and student volunteers will be there to help you from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, log on to