MONTREAL, MARCH 9, 2011 – While a golden ticket is not necessary to visit Leonardo Da Vinci Academy in Rivière-des-Prairies, an army of Grade 6 Oompa Loompas were still hard at work throughout February in a unique project meant to both foster school spirit and raise money for the Franco Di Giovanni Foundation.
Concerned that school spirit was lacking in their school, earlier this year, Grade 6 students approached their teachers with an idea: transform February into “Friendship Month,” and under that theme, encourage the school population to send out tokens of their appreciation to fellow students. To sweeten the project, these tokens would come in the form of chocolate treats, with all the proceeds from each sale going to the Franco Di Giovanni Foundation, a cause close to the hearts of many at the school.
“Our Principal [Mike Talevi] held an assembly to discuss a fundraiser he was starting in the school for The Franco Di Giovanni Foundation, which is associated with the Montreal Neurological Hospital’s brain cancer research organization,” said students Tiffany Dal Santo and Alessandro Francesconi. “His dedication to this cause was due to the fact that our school community was directly affected by the tragic loss of two parents to cancer. We had found where we wanted our funds from our sales to go, showing our peers who lost their parents that we supported them and were there for them.”
While improving school and community spirit while fundraising are daunting tasks on their own merits, the students were also faced with budgetary concerns, forcing them to think outside the box. Limited funds were available from past campaigns, so the students channeled their inner Willy Wonka, set down their Everlasting Gobstoppers and thought outside of the box, coming up with the idea to purchase the raw ingredients and hand-make the chocolates themselves.
Twice a week, 20 students were in the kitchen. The other 48 were responsible for sales, sorting through orders, packaging, distribution, and accounting. As quickly as the project began, their hard work began paying dividends. The ordering committee received double the orders than what was expected, forcing the respective teams to devote an additional two days per week into making, packaging and sorting chocolates.
“On the final day for orders we were surprised by how many we had received and we needed to reevaluate our situation, because our two day a week chocolate making was never going to be sufficient for us to complete all the orders we got,” added Dal Santo and Francesconi. “We had to double up on our tasks so that we were certain to complete our project in time.”
By the end of the project a total of 1700 chocolates were prepared, 1670 of which were pre-sold and 30 reserved for the teachers as a token in appreciation of their understanding and patience. Every student in the school received at least one chocolate, while the Franco Di Giovanni Foundation reaped rewards as well, serving as the beneficiary for a total donation of $1,670.
“The satisfaction of raising money for a worthy cause and building positive school connections was reward enough,” said Dal Santo and Francesconi. “The product created may not be sustainable, however the friendships and peer connections created by demonstrating appreciation for their friends will be with the students always. The whole school now feels like they are uniquely part of a group that cares about each other and wants to make their school life a pleasant and fulfilled one. This project helps to continue building a positive school environment.”
While this year’s batch of Grade 6 students will be taking their glass elevator to high school at in June, they hope that their February tradition will be something that the entire school, and their taste buds, will undoubtedly begin to look forward to on an annual basis.