SASKATOON — A nine-year-old child’s longing to help people in another part of the world touched hundreds and raised some $5,000 as family, parish, school and community came together for a giant Kids Care Garage Sale June 4 at St. Anne Parish in Saskatoon.
All proceeds will go to the charity Hope for Malawi to help St. Anne’s sister parish in Africa.
Sarah Molyneux wanted to find a way to help after she heard about the needs in Malawi during a homily at her parish. With support from her family and approval from the parish, she launched the idea of a Saturday morning Kids Care Garage Sale of donated items.
“I really like how it turned out,” Sarah said. “I am happy about what we can do for Malawi. I’m hoping we can help more people get education, and that more people there can get the things they need.”
Sarah promoted the fundraising project in her parish and school, collecting donations of toys, clothes and household items. Her father, Cary Molyneux, designed a logo for the project, and her aunt, Sharon Leyne, helped produce a promotional video.
Sarah approached her teacher at École Sister O’Brien Catholic School, who responded enthusiastically and incorporated the project into the curriculum for her Grade 4/5 class.
“Sarah told me that she had written a letter to the parish and got approved by Father Matthew to go ahead. She did everything on her own. I was speechless,” said teacher Laura Kuzub-Tremblay.
“We had been studying saints and talking about being disciples, and I had been searching for a year-end project to wrap up the unit. It was meant to be,” she said. The Grade 4/5 class spent time brainstorming ideas on how to help Sarah raise money to support Hope for Malawi.
Ideas included a bottle drive, collecting loose change and a bake sale. “Sarah informed us that her goal was to raise $60,” said Kuzub-Tremblay.
Pastor Rev. Matthew Ramsay visited the classroom to share stories and pictures from a recent trip to Malawi, where he visited Sacred Heart Cathedral in Zomba, the parish that has twinned with St. Anne’s Parish in Saskatoon. “He told us about the foundation Hope for Malawi and how they are making a difference.”
Hope for Malawi founders Peter and Elaine Zakreski, who are also parishioners at St. Anne’s, came to the classroom to meet the students and watch them count the change they had started collecting from friends and family, she added.
Students collected data and made graphs about Malawi and discussed ways to spread the world. “They knocked on doors, made posters and even wrote letters and e-mailed radio stations. A few of my students came to our staff meeting and explained to the teachers our fundraising plans,” said Kuzub-Tremblay.
“The Grade 4/5s went class-to-class to present and share the same stories and pictures Father Matthew had shared with us about the orphans in Malawi,” she said. “The details in the stories they remembered were profound. They had been touched and were now on the same mission Sarah was — to help.”
The week before the garage sale, Sarah and her classmates shared insights and reflections on what they had learned about Malawi, their ideas for helping, and why they wanted to be involved.
“I thought it was a great thing to do and it really gives the students a sense of responsibility, and it shows that we really can make a difference,” said Seraphina.
“It makes me feel happy that we can help other people,” said Nathalie.
“A lot of people think kids can’t do what adults can, and we don’t know as much as they do, but having Sarah coming up with an idea like this, and our whole class pitching in shows that actually kids can do things,” added Sharissa.
Students shared information about Malawi and the project with family, friends and other students in the school. One student’s father slipped a photo of Malawi into a presentation at work, and talked about the project during a meeting. Other students texted and emailed grandparents and friends to get support.
“I went home and talked to my mom about it and she was really excited because when I was younger we used to live in a Third World country as well,” said Bettina, adding that her mother encouraged her to earn money for the project by setting up a lemonade stand in front of her house. “People were very generous.”
For several students with connections to Africa through family members, the Hope for Malawi project resonated. Others connected it to other outreach they were involved in. “My mom’s friend lived in Fort McMurray, and we donated clothes there too,” said Noah. “It is really nice knowing you are donating your stuff to a good cause.”
“This is a good thing to do, you get to learn about other countries, and how we are so lucky,” added Danika.
Students were eager to share what they had learned about Malawi, including facts about the country, descriptions of the food and housing and how people live, diseases that could be cured, as well as insights into poverty and injustice. They have also connected the project to faith and their love of God.
“The people in Malawi have many more needs than you can imagine. They have many people and orphans there, and there are classes that have to be held outside because there is no room in the classrooms,” described Sarah. “When I got this idea, what I first thought about was that we were helping a country that God made. God helped us, and God made us all. God made our world and we should do our part to help other people around us.”
Nathalie added: “God sent Jesus to help people. I find that we can help Malawi. They don’t deserve to live like that. It’s not their fault that they were born into a poor situation. They should be helped.”
Abigail agreed, saying: “God created that country and he wants us to help. It’s kind of like a test to see if we will actually care.”
On the day of the sale — which featured dozens of tables overflowing with donated items and a fundraising barbecue — several classmates joined Sarah and other volunteers in helping out. Unsold items were donated to the Community Living Association, the CWL Clothing Depot and the Saskatoon Friendship Inn.
In addition to collecting loose change ($881.25), a bottle drive ($386.60), and a bake sale ($347.40) at Sister O’Brien School, the Kids Care Garage Sale raised $3397.80, for a grand total of $5,013.05.