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MacNeill students raise funds for charity during Art-A-Thon

By Hannah Scott

Published 3:54 PST, Wed January 25, 2023

Students in the Buzz Art Club at MacNeill secondary took part in the annual Art-A-Thon fundraiser earlier this month.

This year’s event donated over $2,500 to Covenant House Vancouver. Previous highlighted charities include the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Downie Wenjack Fund, and BC Cancer Foundation. The art club meets every Thursday at lunch.

“In October or November, we start discussing themes for the Art-A-Thon, we talk about what we want to do, narrow down charities, and vote on our charity of choice that year,” explains teacher sponsor Kate Walker. “Covenant House has been on the radar for some time.”

Students then complete a small prototype of their final painting in pencil and paint. They are challenged to think about their audience, as well as considering a theme. This year’s theme was “stories,” encouraging students to think about cultural, personal, social, historical, or environmental aspects of their own stories.

“A lot of kids did different things from their home country, their journey as a student (or) as a teenager, personal stuff, (or) historical parts of their background,” says Walker.

Along with working on their art, students also spend several months collecting sponsorship donations from fellow students, parents, teachers, and friends. On the day of the Art-A-Thon, Jan. 14 this year, 21 students painted for a marathon 11 hours with several short snack breaks. The finished paintings were displayed at the school’s open house.

“(Students are) learning to be independent, self-advocate, and see their contributions go into the community and have a positive effect on someone’s life,” says Walker. “The confidence that they get giving to other people is a life skill. I think them giving to people that they don’t know and that they feel compassionate about, to do that at a young age is very powerful for them.”

Opus Art Supplies donated 85 per cent of the canvases for this year’s event. The school’s parent advisory council also donated funds for art supplies.

To date, the Buzz Art Club’s Art-A-Thon has raised over $15,000 benefitting nine different charities. Most students in the club are currently in grades 10 to 12, with a few Grade 8 students.

“Every fall, the returning art club students, one of their highlights of the year is to work with their friends and work with the club to raise money for an event they feel passionate about—I think that’s important,” says Walker. “I want them to be able to see the value in doing a charity event when they’re able to give to other people, and feel that they’ve been able to contribute to society for something that is an important cause.”

After the Art-A-Thon, Buzz Art Club members will collaborate on a large group project where individual two-dimensional pieces will be connected like puzzle pieces.

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