What started as a school project has grown to a fundraiser that’s raised nearly $1,000 for the Canadian Red Cross.
Evelynn Fager, Teva Minler, and Jillian O’Neill are grade 6 students at Muskoka Falls Public School (MFPS). They started a fundraiser they have dubbed “The Peace Bloomers.”
O’Neill explains it started when they were asked to listen to a podcast and write about it. The trio initially wanted to listen to one about World War 2, but their teacher suggested they listen to one about what’s happening in Ukraine. “We didn’t really know much about the war that was going on so we started doing some research,” O’Neill says.
After listening to their chosen podcast, they were inspired to start the fundraiser.
While researching the topic, they found an article on the story of a 14-year-old boy who had to leave his home in Ukraine to escape the war. “He went all on his own and I think that gave us perspective because it’s closer to our age,” says O’Neill. “My sister is 14, so just thinking if we had to be in that position it would be nerve-racking. We probably wouldn’t know what to do.”
Minler says they spent a lot of time thinking about how they would raise money. They decided to create and sell sunflowers, which are the national flower of Ukraine.
Initially, the fundraising goal was $100. Fager says they eclipsed that quickly and, as of Monday, June 27, have raised $955.
A display has been set up at the front of the school with a donation box and prepaid sunflowers. The girls sit there during their breaks and collect money. The wall behind them is covered in sunflowers that have the donors’ names written on them. O’Neill says it’s just the people from the school because they don’t have enough room to include everyone else who has donated.
“Everyone in the school has donated, I think, at least once,” she says. On top of that, parents have donated, trustees with the Trillium Lakelands District School as well as Wes Hahn, Director of Education have dropped off a donation, and even people with no connection to the school have reached out.
“We’re so thankful for it because it’s so much,” says Fager.
Minler says whatever they raise will be matched by the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian Crisis Appeal fund.
“I can’t express to you enough how proud I am,” says Jennifer Richter, principal of MFPS.
She adds that Fager, Minler, and O’Neill “exemplify” empathy, care, and kindness, which is what the school wants to promote in its students. Richter credits the trio for putting in many hours of their own time in to create the fundraiser.
While the school year ends Wednesday, Richter says the school office will remain open through the first week of July and will be accepting donations until then. The school’s phone number is 705-645-2463.