Members of the St. Clair units of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) marked the Christmas season by donating of $17,500 worth of Christmas presents to the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre and the Women’s Interval Home of Sarnia-Lambton.
The fundraiser, organized by the local OECTA units, invited Catholic teachers and education workers from the St. Clair Catholic District School Board to participate in a weeklong fundraising event.
Participants were encouraged to donate to the local women’s shelters by taking part in an array of creative fundraising activities, including “dress down” days where staff could dress in casual attire.
On the final day of the weeklong event, everyone was encouraged to wear purple in support of the shelters’ Shine a Light on Woman Abuse campaign.
“The idea for this fundraiser came directly from our teachers who noticed a need in our communities. Our teachers support families in need at Christmas every year, but this year we heard many more stories about additional needs, likely due to the pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. We reached out to our local women’s shelters, and it was a perfect fit,” said Wayne Bechard, president of the local OECTA St. Clair Elementary Unit in a media release.
Co-organizer, Chad Coene, President of the Secondary Teachers’ Unit added, “At first, we were hoping to raise just a few thousand dollars from our own teacher-members, but the kindness and generosity started to snowball and took off and we got support from every employee group across the board – for example, our custodians, educational assistants, librarians, social workers, and administrators – they were all in. It was a great team effort, and we were overwhelmed by the total raised. It was way beyond what we were hoping for.”
For more than 40 years, the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre and the Women’s Interval Home of Sarnia-Lambton have provided life-saving services and comfort to women and children of families in distress. Both work to end the cycle of violence through a continuum of services and holistic approaches to help women and children escape violence and rebuild their lives.
“At the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre, we support women and children who are facing violence by providing shelter, advocacy, counselling, and public education,” said Alicia Blair, Youth and Child Programs counselor with the C-K Women’s Centre. “The presents donated by our local Catholic teachers and education workers will provide some joy and happiness to those in need.”