Northern Secondary School has capped off its 40th year supporting the United Way by shattering its own already-impressive fundraising record.
The north Toronto school brought in $43,200 for the charity through a variety of activities throughout the year. That surpasses the $34,000 the school raised for the United Way last year and tops the ambitious $40,000 goal Northern had set for this year.
“This is the most we’ve ever raised and we thought $40,000 was a good goal for our 40th anniversary of fundraising for the United Way,” said Northern teacher Lori Moulton, who serves as the primary staff advisor for the school’s United Way committee.
The United Way campaign is student-driven, though both the student body and the faculty participate in fundraising initiatives throughout the year. Even the parents get involved through a silent auction on parent-teacher night.
“We had a really successful CN Tower Stair Climb this year with more students than ever and we introduced a bunch of new events during our United Way Week, which is our biggest fundraising week,” said Grade 12 student Andrea Vucetic, who co-chairs Northern’s United Way committee along with fellow Grade 12 student Natalie Phung.
Some 300 students raised pledges and climbed the CN Tower’s steps this year, an increase of more than 50 from previous years.
“With those extra 50 students, we saw a $9,000 increase in the money we got for that one event, so that’s a lot of the increased funds we raised right there,” Phung said. “During United Way Week, we had a talent show during lunch, which brought in another $200.”
Teachers and school staff got into the act by collecting pledges in exchange for fulfilling dares – principal Ron Felsen dressed in a cat costume while another teacher braided his beard, for instance.
The school’s Helping Hands organization also pitched in, with more than 80 students joining the volunteer group to help set up and clean up after various events, sell tickets and otherwise help out.
“We usually wind up with about 100 students who come to a Helping Hands information meeting at the start of the year and this year we had about 85 students who joined up,” said Claire Chen, head of the school’s Helping Hands group.
While the $43,200 was a record even for Northern – which has long been the top United Way fundraiser among all TDSB schools – future years could prove just as successful.
“The new events we tried did really well so we’ll keep those,” Phung said.
Given the school’s 40-year fundraising history for the organization, setting a new high was no small achievement.
“We’re proud of our school for raising $43,200, which is a really great achievement,” Vucetic said. “We want to keep this going.”