Riverside’s Give for Good club has undertaken numerous community initiatives over the past few months under teacher leads Ms. Durand Chapelle and Ms. Kathy Shong and student leads Dzenan Jauzovic, Brianna Brill, Kiera Van Veen, and Charlotte Gibson.

In Fall 2021, Van Veen began the process of making quilts for those vulnerable to the cold winters in the community. “I have a long history of volunteer work, I like to find problems within the community that I can help fix, then create an initiative involving my fellow Riverside students to make a change,” said Van Veen, seeing her contributions as her way of giving back to the community. After months of collection, assembling, and sewing work Keira was able to finish one quilt with the help of fellow Give 4 Good members and plans to continue creating more quilts to be given to, “an institute which will then give (the quilts) away to those who need them the most.” The quilt project is also part of Van Veen’s Grade 12 Capstone project.

Give4Good Club making quilts.

During COVID, many clubs around the school had difficulty organizing in-person community initiatives but Give 4 Good was able to adapt within pandemic protocols and created wellness bags for un-housed members of the community with some students from the club dropping them of at shelters, such as 3030 Gordan Ave. Brill speaks to the lengthy process of creating these bags but how the end result and visit was rewarding. “It was so great to get to meet people and hear their stories at Gordon Ave. They really inspired all of us to continue our goals to make the community a better place. We are so grateful they opened their hearts to us and were willing to share their stories,” said Brill.  The next day the group revisited the shelter with hot chocolate and packaged meals where they met more people that shared their stories.

Brianna Brill assembling care packets.

After completing these two major initiatives the club is furthering their impact by creating ‘New Beginnings Backpacks’ led by grade 12 Jannea Pregler and the Project Beyond Hello initiative led by Jauzovic.

The cost of the contents for the children’s backpacks were fundraised for by Pregler and will be filled with nutritious food items for children dealing with food insecurity at home. “I am creating 20 backpacks total, 15 of which are going to Central Elementary, and the other 5 are going to students at Riverside,” said Pregler. The initiative is based on Pregler’s experience with Girl Guide’s Starfish Backpacks that had a similar goal.

A continuation of the 3030 Gordan visit, Project Beyond Hello is a project focusing on building community connections by reconnecting un-housed people with their families. Give 4 Good members will be asking un-housed individuals to write a card to friends, family, or someone that they have lost touch with, in hopes of Give 4 Good finding them via social media and reconnecting them with their loved ones.

Much of the funding for Give 4 Good initiatives came from the Port Coquitlam Foundation, Port Coquitlam Rotary Club, and RSS PAC; many of these initiatives could not have taken place without this funding. “We are so thankful and could not have done this without the financial support,” said Durand.