Many hands make for light work.
Dozens of students at New Glasgow Academy spend three days during the month of January helping out at Viola’s Place in New Glasgow, part of the school’s Exploratory Program.
“It’s wonderful, just wonderful,” said Tammy MacLaren, co-chair of Viola’s Place Society.
“The community had been so kind and we’ve been overwhelmed with donations, so it would have taken us a very long time to go through all this. But when you have 20 helpers, it’s great. And I think they have a new interpretation of homelessness.”
The first week, an information session was held to get the students – ranging from Grades 5 through 8 – more familiar with the shelter. For confidentiality, students were not in the area of the shelter that houses clients, and instead worked in other areas of the building on Marsh Street.
After the information session was held, “they went straight to work,” said Jill Fraser, a Grade 8 teacher at NGA.
The students emptied out a space, sorting out bags of coats, and dividing them by size and gender. “It took the first two weeks to go through bags,” Fraser added.
The final day for the students to toil away at the shelter was Jan. 24. “Today, we are taking the clothes that we’ve already sorted, we’re folding them and setting them up on tables and shelves in an adjacent room,” for clients to browse through, picking out things they need.
It is also hoped the youngsters learn the importance of volunteering, and giving back to the communities in which they live.
“It gets them out into the community, gets them volunteering, letting them see what is available in Pictou County,” Fraser said. “We’re hoping to instill a desire to give back to the community, to become volunteers themselves. We want to show them that there’s all kinds of different things we can do to pay it forward, to do something right here, where we’re living.”
Another group spent three weeks cooking and baking at the school, before taking the baked, packaged goods to the shelter.
MacLaren said Viola’s Place is always looking for volunteers.
“We’ve had clients here every night, other than the first three nights when we opened back in October. Anything we have that we can give, we give to them.”