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May. 22, 2019 | Wednesday
Local News
Many Hands Project’s huge donation helps many children at Pathstone
Holly Calbert, Olivia Johnson. Christine Blane and Kim Rossi with donation cheque on Monday. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Pathstone Mental Health received more than $40,000 from the Many Hands Project on Monday, enough for eight years of play therapy programming for the children it helps.

The 30 students from the event management program in Niagara College’s Hospitality, Tourism and Sport department raised $35,858 by planning events as part of the program’s experiential learning mandate.

Canadian Tire Bank, a sponsor and supporter of the Many Hands Project, donated $5,000 – pushing the total amount raised to $40,858.

Many Hands is a student-driven community project in operation since 1998.

Each year, the college takes applications from local non-profit organizations to find a donor recipient for the term. Faculty narrows the list of eligible applicants, and then once event management students begin classes in September, they make the final decision as a class.

This year, the recipient was Pathstone, which provides a comfortable environment for children to address mental health through play therapy.

Kim Rossi, director of philanthropy at Pathstone, accepted the cheque on behalf of the organization, thanking the students, Canadian Tire Bank and Niagara College for their contributions.

“I can tell you that this amount of money will more than fund play therapy at Pathstone for the next eight years.” Rossi said she was “blown away” by the effort put in and the money raised by the program.

Students surpassed fundraising targets for each planned event, said Prof. Christine Blane, co-ordinator of the event management program.

The two highest earning projects were Designer Handbag Bingo and Turntable Trivia, she said, both raising more than $11,000 each. The two events both took place on March 29 and brought in a combined 475 attendees.

Students also hosted Taps, Apps and Laughs Comedy Night on April 4 and Rise and Shine Yoga on March 24, both of which she said were also a “big success,” attracting 150 and 130 people respectively.

Blane said the community has been benefiting from the Many Hands Project for more than 20 years.

“The not-for-profit sector is always struggling to make ends meet. It’s amazing to be able to help the community. Every time we write a cheque each year, we’re helping to further their program.”

On Monday morning, students and supporters gathered at Branscombe Mental Health Centre for a community celebration and to present Rossi with the cheque announcing the total raised for the first time.

“It’s so appropriate the Many Hands Project came on board with us this year,” Rossi said. “You guys have giant hearts. I knew from the first meeting that you were buying into what we do – and believe in what we do.”

Students start with no money, using skills learned in the program to negotiate, plan and hold fundraising events.

Working diligently throughout the year, the students secure venue space, acquire sponsorship money and gain support from community sponsors to make each event a success.

A leadership team of the students is formed for each event, working on planning throughout the year, while the remaining students help run the event as part of the volunteer process in the program.

Two students, Ashley Dykun and Andrey Shornikov, from the event management program, each received a $1,000 faculty award provided by the Many Hands Project in recognition of excellence throughout the term. The winning students were chosen based on overall academic performance, dedication to the cause and championing of the program, Blane said.

The program benefits both the students and the community, she said, by providing real-world, hands-on experience while at the same time helping organizations in need. The community celebration event on Monday morning was an effective way to conclude the term, she added.

“It’s nice to have that wrap-up and to have the community and media there to share in this success with us. Onward we go to next year.”

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