Principal’s Message May 2024: The Power to Make a Difference

The Power to Make a Difference

Seeing the tremendous support for our fundraising efforts in Principal’s Club again this year, has left me feeling so grateful. After speaking to several parents recently, I realized that not everyone knows what Principal’s Club is really all about, and yet they still contribute and support us! This is truly a tremendous feeling, but I thought this might be a good time to share some information about the Club… how we started and where we have currently landed.

In 2010, I was introduced to a wonderful charity that was building wells in India and I knew right away that this was something that CGS should get behind. But I didn’t want this to just be an “ask for parents to donate” activity, but rather have the students involved in the entire fundraising process. I also missed spending regular time with the students in favour of my administrative duties, so the natural result was the birth of Principal’s Club. Open to students from Grades 1-4, being a member of the club is a significant rite of passage; something special reserved for our oldest students.

The mission of Principal’s Club has always been to help others, whether they live a few blocks from us or are living a few million miles away. I wanted our students, at their tender age, to realize, through direct experience, that they all hold the power to make a difference in our world. My goal was to have the students involved every step of the way; from determining what our fundraisers would be, to creating the products for sale, to advertising and promotion, and even sales.

After two years of raising funds for the building of wells through SOPAR we switched gears and partnered with Children of Hope UgandaOver a number of years, Principal’s Club raised over $20,000.00 for COHU. We helped build a facility that can accommodate as many as 300 youngsters, and stocked the classrooms with furniture, books and learning materials, paid for a playground for them and assisted with teacher salaries. When CGS had a change of uniform, the students in the Club decided to send our surplus uniform pieces to COHU. After I shared a picture of our proud Ugandan friends in their new CGS uniforms, our students noticed the children weren’t wearing shoes. Very quickly it was decided that a shoe drive was in order. So, one good deed just turned into another and another. This was probably the proudest moment of my entire career. Children helping children, what could be any better?

After several years of working with COHU we received the good news that the school was now self-sufficient, (always the ultimate goal), and our time with them came to an end. We were fortunate to be introduced to The Olive Branch for Children in Tanzania and our relationship with them is now about 6 years old. Incredibly, this organization was founded by a Toronto woman when she was quite young and on an African travel adventure. She has made her home there and has dedicated her life to helping the Tanzanian children and young people in so many ways. When she comes home to Toronto each year, for a visit with her family, she always graces us with a visit as well and the students in Principal’s Club gain such wonderful firsthand knowledge from her. It makes the fruits of our labour so much more tangible to them.

In addition to supporting these far-away charities, the CGS Principal’s Club has an ongoing relationship with The Children’s Book Bank here in Toronto, (we funded and support the book box at the front entrance of the school and when it is full we send the books off to a very grateful Book Bank who then distributes them to those children who wouldn’t otherwise have books to read at home.) This year we also spent one of our Club meetings making sandwiches for Club Sandwich who supply sandwiches to those in our city who are experiencing food insecurity. To quote one of our hard-working, sandwich-making students “I really feel like I am making a difference” and another said “this is the best activity I have ever done”!

So please know that when you support any Principal’s Club fundraising effort you are not only helping those in need, but you are also helping our CGS students learn about a larger world around them and that any act, no matter how small, has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of others. It is never too soon to begin a life of philanthropic good deeds and this is the seed that is being planted in those who join our Principal’s Club. The added bonus is that the Club is super fun and we have been known to even have a party or two throughout the year! I look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come and thank you all for your unwavering support.


Marie Bates