Garibaldi girls win $5,000 for charity

Grade 8s picked Salvation Army, helped out at Caring Place

Four Garibaldi secondary teens with big hearts and a knack for filmmaking have won $5,000 for their favourite local charity – the Sally Ann.

The quartet of Yudy Rodriguez, Cheyenne Cote-Rolvink, Katherine Mantel and Samantha Hall competed as finalists in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, and won the money for the Caring Place in downtown Maple Ridge.

In the competition, groups of students conduct research and interviews and collect data on non-profit groups in their city or town.

The Garibaldi girls spent hours preparing video footage, interviewed key people with the Caring Place – which offers a community meal program, a homeless shelter and other services including medical care.

They also took their turns working as volunteers at the centre, for two or three days each, to gain first-hand experience.

Based on their time there, all of the girls say they would like to help the charity again in the future.

Steph Wagner, spokesperson for the Caring Place, said it is not unusual for teens who become educated about the work of charities to become personally invested in them.

“The Toskan Casale Foundation has been doing the contest since 2001, and they’ve found that kids get involved with the charity after their contest.”

The judging panel included a local RCMP officer, school board trustees and other students.

Wagner has seen many of the contest entries over the years, and said the Garibaldi team produced one that stood out.

She said there has been no specific plan for the $5,000, but it could easily be spent in the community meal project, which serves up some 12,000 meals per month.

“It will be put to good use,” she said.

The organization is in need of donations, and high on the list are coffee, new socks, underwear and toiletries.