St. James Youth Raise Thousands for Charities

Coldest Night Kids
St James Parish youth group members Josiah Gustafson, Marcus Yurko, Bennett Gill and Youth Ministry Coordinator Amy Heggenstaller-Boon were part of a group that participated in the Coldest Night of the Year walk.
Published: Okotoks Online on Wednesday, 28 February 2018 05:50 
Written by Tanis Gillis

Fundraising efforts by a group of youth from St James Church in Okotoks have resulted in a $5,500.00 donation to two charities that serve the homeless.

Forty-six youth collected funds over the past couple of months and then participated in the Coldest Night of the Year walk in Calgary on Saturday, February 24th. The funds raised by the group will support Kairos and Feed the Hungry.

Marcus Yurko, a Grade 7 student from St. John Paul II Collegiate, says they were part of a group of hundreds that participated in the event.

“It was a fairly big group,” he says. “There was around 450 people that were walking and we weren’t all in one cluster, we were spread out. Some did 5K and some did the 10K.”

The local youth completed the five-kilometre route through the Eau Claire area of downtown Calgary and refueled with hot chocolate and cookies at snack stops along the way, as well as chili and donuts at the end of the walk.

St. James Parish Youth Ministry Coordinator Amy Heggenstaller-Boon says it was a “humbling” experience to see homeless people gathered under the bridges for warmth against the cold, but also smiling, clapping and cheering the walkers on along the route.

Funds were raised at events held at Natural High Fitness at the Okotoks Recreation Centre, Sobeys Okotoks with hot chocolate and coffee donated by McDonald‘s, an Okotoks Oilers game and at the church. Heggenstaller-Boon says the community has been behind the youth all the way and adds they’re grateful for the support they received.

Bennett Gill, a Grade 6 student at Ecole Good Shepherd School, says he felt it was time to start helping those less fortunate than himself and he organized his own fundraising effort to help out.

“I thought that I really wanted to help the homeless so I decided to do my own fundraiser at my school, Good Shepherd,” Gill explains. “And I ended up raising $260 and I’m really pleased with that number.”

Josiah Gustafson, a Grade 7 student at St. John Paul II Collegiate, says he enjoyed the opportunity to serve others as part of the youth group.

“I think maybe if the younger you are and people see you doing stuff, it really shows them that it doesn’t matter your age, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” Gustafson says.