St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic high school students have come together to show support for Ukraine
Villanova teacher Mike Baran organized a fundraising effort asking students to put yellow and blue ribbons together for everyone in the school to wear in an effort to raise awareness about the crisis in Ukraine.
“Raising awareness of the current struggles occurring throughout the Ukraine community is extremely important,” said Villanova student Sarah Foreman. “Blue and yellow pins made of ribbon were worn in order to acknowledge this saddening situation. Many generous donations were given and matched by the Red Cross then sent directly to Ukraine. Taking part in this fundraiser was truly important to me. This left me with a sense of hopefulness and accomplishment. Even though we are located on the other side of the world, a difference is still being made.”
Villanova Principal, Laura Beltran said the message of unity and peace was spread across the building, giving the school a new topic of conversation among the students.
“Prior to the day that we chose to collect our donation, we did announcements informing the students on what was happening from that social justice lens,” said Beltran. “We wanted to spread the idea that we do what we can to ensure peace in our building, and we can do to ensure peace in the world. Even a little bit will help a great deal in the lives of many people whose lives have been turned upside down by violence.”
The next day, ribbons were distributed and in that single day, over $6,000 in donations was raised from Villanova alone. Ribbons were also brought to Assumption College Catholic High School, where an additional $3,400 was raised.
“It was really cool to be able to help a country in need of so much by doing so little,” said Villanova student, Traya Mulder. “We only spent two periods making the ribbons and almost the whole school did the rest. We were able to actually raise a significant amount of money because of everyone’s generosity and we hope that those in need will be able to get the help they need. It’s important that people who can, help those who need it.
In total, Villanova and Assumption donated $9,400 to the Canadian Red Cross and those funds were matched by the Federal Government so that $18,800 will go directly towards relief efforts in Ukraine.
The Villanova teacher who organized the ribbon initiative, Mike Baran, said he is proud of the student for stepping up in such a big way to help people on the other side of the world.
“We are so fortunate to live in a country that isn’t in conflict and should always help those in need,” said Baran. “Just at the mention of doing something to support this cause, the students immediately wanted to help in any way that they could. We had faith that our school communities would come together to support the Red Cross in their humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. I’m very proud to be part of a community that is so willing to help others.”
On Thursday, March 10, the schools of the WECDSB encouraged their students to wear blue and yellow in support of the people of Ukraine. Villanova students were permitted to be out of uniform in order to wear their blue and yellow colours.
“As a school community, we pray for peace and diplomatic negotiations to end violent conflict on our planet and for the 1 million Ukrainian citizens attempting to flee their peaceful country due to the violence inflicted upon them by the Russian invasion; half of them children,” said Beltran.
On March 14, Canada’s matching fund for the Crisis in Ukraine and donations to the Canadian Red Cross was increased to $30 million from $10 million.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to help Ukraine in such a significant way and I really think it is a great representation of who we are as a school community,” said Villanova student Sullivan Culhane. “We are so privileged here and I am grateful that my peers are able to recognize that. I cannot even imagine what those affected by this invasion are going through right now but I am proud of the compassion my classmates have displayed through the entire process of bringing this fundraiser together.”