This holiday season many local charities, businesses and people in the community are celebrating Christmas on a high note, with the generous donations of funding and gifts from the students and staff at St. Mary’s College during their annual Heaven Cent campaign.
Heaven Cent, previously known as Pennies from Heaven, originated in the early 1990’s, thanks to the late Bob Denham who founded the campaign when he picked up a penny off the floor and thought of helping others.
In talking about the evolution of the Heaven Cent campaign over the years, Christopher Czop, the Heaven Cent Mentor, mentioned that it started as a means of giving back to the community and the campaign is now at a place where the school becomes more involved with the community. “We adopt students, families and the elderly, we visit retirement homes and have students who participate in holiday baking which was delivered to Women in Crisis this year.”
Each year, the students and staff are given the month of December to host and participate in the campaign, which kicked off on December 1st of this year. Students and Staff are presented with many fun opportunities to donate towards the cause, including intramural tournaments, themed dress down days and the annual Mr. SMC Pageant that was held at The Tech on December 21, 2016.
On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, St. Mary’s College held their Celebration of Giving, where cheques were presented to this years’ beneficiaries. Many classes also purchased gifts for students in the community whose families may be unable to afford them this year.
Since the inception of the campaign, students and staff have successfully raised close to $400,000, including just over $18,000 raised this year alone!
“The background of people receiving funds has to be related to the students, children and families. These individuals are not necessarily in need, but may just be looking for some help,” shared Czop.
This years’ beneficiaries include:
- Women in Crisis
- Pauline’s Place
- Metis Nation of Ontario
- Sault Ste. Marie Chapter of Autism Ontario
- Thrive Child Development Centre
- Pregnancy Centre
- The Algoma Autism Foundation
- Habitat for Humanity
- Soup Kitchen
- St. Vincent’s Place
- Breton House
- Breaking Away
As well as the school’s breakfast and lunch programs and the Heaven Cent bowling tournament, which is for students with learning exceptionalities across Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District.