Hunting Hills students lend a helping hand this holiday season

Students and staff at Hunting Hills High School were challenged on Giving Tuesday to give back during the holiday season.

To rise up to this challenge, they have decided to give back in a variety of ways. Students and staff are donating hats, scarves, mitts and coats which will be collected for the Vantage Community Services drop in centre. Toiletries are also being hung on the ‘toilet-tree’ which will also be donated to the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter and new toys are also being collected which will go towards the Ronald McDonald House.

Jonathan Davies, teacher at Hunting Hills High School, said students in the leadership program came up with the idea.

“Last year we were able to raise about $5,000 for the Ronald McDonald House. And the leadership kids loved it - they got to take the toys down there and that was a cool experience for them,” he said. “We had about 35 kids come and deliver the toys to the Ronald McDonald House. We had to load up a school bus full of kids and they all wanted to hold a toy and hand it over.”

He added last year’s experience was a big draw for the students to donate to the Ronald McDonald House again. This year, students are collecting toys, gift cards as well as baking supplies for the House

After supporting Vantage Community Services through the recent Bike A Thon, students wanted to give back to the agency again, just in a different way.

“Vantage Community Services offers youth and family counseling, so that is what the recent Bike A Thon supported. For Helping Hands, students are collecting hats, mitts, scarves and coats for the Street Ties drop in youth program.”

It was also important for the students to support the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter.

“That tree is really fun - it has a toilet seat on top. And students will hang toothpaste, toothbrushes, and feminine hygiene products on the tree,” said Davies.  

Over the next few weeks, donations will be collected and be placed under the trees.

“We could decorate our school with all the lights and trees but I think it’s cool that the focal point is that we’re giving and we’re supporting our community,” said Davies.

There are about 70 students in Grade 10, 11 and 12 that are part of the leadership program at Hunting Hills, which is head by Davies and teacher Jill de Jong. Another 50 students in Grade 9 take the program as well.

“We get together once a week after school. The last three months were busy with planning our Bike A Thon,” said Davies. “That was such a huge event for us and in so many ways incredibly successful.”

The program is offered as an option at Hunting Hills and Davies said the great thing is that it attracts a diverse group.

“We have an academic crowd that take a full academic load and they will take the leadership course in Grade 9 because it fits with their schedule and it looks good on a college application, but they are really drawn in and it’s their alter-ego,” he said. “I have a student who is in our Foundation’s program and he’s been in leadership for three years now. We pull in a little bit of everyone.

“We spend a little bit of time creating community within our leadership program and then we tell them that their job is to create community in their school. It’s a great program.”