Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Interact members Emma Mitchell, left, Daniella Meraw, Megan Klose, Jessica Lee, and Logan Heaven stand with their collection for the Holiday Shoebox Event. Held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, the students helped to collect something a “little extra special for teens” from the public and their school. The range of items included hygiene items, clothing and entertainment. Submitted by Christine Carr

Community effort brightens sombre festive season

By Darren Lum

The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Interact Team members helped to orchestrate a positive tone in 2020 during the pandemic with its club’s Holiday Shoebox Event.

The idea behind the Shoebox collection, which started Nov. 30 and finished Dec. 14, is to ensure the holiday season is a “little extra special for teens” in the community. The collection fulfills a need for teens, asking for brand new hygiene items, clothing items, entertainment items, unused gift cards and cash.

From a Twitter post made by the faculty advisor Christine Carr, the club was “blown away” by the outpouring of generosity through this initiative.
“We wildly exceeded our goal of 50 boxes and have 81 ready to go to donate for teens in our area. Thank you everyone who donated and supported our project!”

Carr said her teaching colleague Rebeka Borgdorff is also a faculty advisor with the club, which was central to this effort that teaches an important lesson.

In an email, Carr said, “I think it is important for students as it helps them learn how to give back. Students know that there are many families right now struggling, and wanted to find ways they could help. They were able to collect so many as it was the first time they collected in the community as well as the school. They collected donations in Haliburton, Minden, and with the help of Haliburton Rotary and Minden Rotary, and had a school- wide competition.”

Interact Team members collected from the public by standing out on the main streets of Haliburton and Minden over a weekend in December. Within the school, boxes were left in classrooms where donations were made by peers and faculty, as motivated by a competition format between teams formed by dividing classes to compete for either principal Chris Boulay or for vice-principal Jennifer Mills. Points were earned for different items. The most awarded points won.

Victorious school team winners were rewarded for their efforts to see different staff members perform “some pretty funny tasks” on Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18.

Team Mills won the competition, leading to staff members such as Mrs. Paton to wear an embarrassing outfit, Mrs. Borgdorff received a pie to the face, and Mr. Gervias and Mrs. Andress wore each other’s clothing – Mr. Gervais wore a wedding dress and Mrs. Andress wore a tuxedo.