For the 2017 Hero Celebration, students, parents and teachers got together Tuesday in the gymnasium of the Old Perlican school to recognize the importance of The Gathering Place.
The St. John's non-profit serves people who may find themselves homeless, lacking the social support system necessary to earn a living, or facing any number of complex challenges in life. Its noon-hour meal program serves approximately 150 people daily.
"These people come from all over Newfoundland," noted Kendra George, one of the students involved in this year's celebration. "They are people we choose not to see sometimes because of the way it might make us feel."
"They are people who are reaching out for help," added fellow student Nathan Button, " and the volunteers at The Gathering Place have extended their hands to keep these people … helping them gain independence."
Students from homeroom teacher Jane Green's Grade 8 class raised $300 and also donated more than a dozen bags filled with toiletry items — something Green said the Gathering Place informed them was especially needed.
"The people of this community I would say are the most giving people I've ever met, and you've all passed that on to your children," Green said Tuesday, addressing those who gathered for the celebration.
Gathering Place director Joanne Thompson expressed her gratitude for what students and the school accomplished.
"I tell you, you're a fantastic group of students," she said. "This school should be so proud, because I tell you, we're going to go back and really celebrate in story what it is you gave to us today."
Tuesday's celebration wasn't simply a cheque presentation. There was plenty of music, including a group performance by the students and a solo number from Hayley North. They also created a book of art and poetry inspired by The Gathering Place. Some students took a moment to read their poems during the event.
Former teacher Joan Kelly, who pitched a project to inspire students to look beyond their own front door and find ways to help others, first established the Hero Celebration in 2002.