Student council members at Strathroy Community Christian School (SCCS) decided that they wanted to give students at their school the chance to make a difference in the lives of others this Christmas. After spending time considering different opportunities to serve the needs of others, they chose to partner with World Renew, setting a goal to raise enough money to buy 296 chickens for families in Honduras.
“The student council surprised us with their suggestion this year,” shared SCCS Administrative Assistant Cathy Lubbers. Ms. Lubbers, who also acts as the staff representative for the student council, explained that in the past, council members have run a door-decorating contest and have set up and decorated a tree in the front foyer—under which they collected canned goods to give to the local food bank. But this year, the student council decided they wanted to participate in a larger scale service project as well.
The student leaders were inspired to raise funds for chickens after reading about the different giving opportunities in a World Renew catalog that had been sent to the school. They recognized that by participating together in this service project as an entire student body, they’d not only be able to help others who live in poverty through the giving of their gifts, they would also be giving students the opportunity to build relationship with one another.
“At first people thought it was strange that our goal wasn’t a nice, round number,” shared Kevin, the student council treasurer. “But we thought it would be fun to put up a picture of a chicken in the hallways of the school, with the goal that we’d have one chicken on each brick and make them reach all the way around the entire school. So we counted the bricks around the inside of the school, and there were 296.”
“We reached our goal within the first three days,” he added. “The chickens were going up on the walls in the hallways, and kids would come out of their classrooms and show each other where the chicken was that had their name on it, and they’d be so excited that a family in another country was actually going to receive that gift from them. So they just kept giving more!”
“Everyone was so excited when we announced that we were going to be collecting money to buy chickens,” agreed student council president Micah, a grade eight student at SCCS. “We thought maybe we’d sell ten chickens a day or something like that. But people just started bringing in money and were so excited about being a part of this big school project.”
In fact, by the time the two-week fundraiser ended, students had bought 738 chickens—enough to circle the entire inside of the school almost three times—a feat that the student council members had not anticipated when planning the event. They were equally surprised by the many different ways that students had discovered to raise money for their donations. “Students in the older grades weren’t just asking their parents for money—they were taking their own money and buying chickens,” shared Micah. “Younger students brought in family donations, and others started to find some other really creative ways to give as well.” As an example, Micah shared that when her own dad celebrated his 39th birthday, he asked that his gift be one chicken for every year that he’d been alive so far.
“Even the stories that students told each other motivated them to find ways to give more,” added student council co-treasurer Ruby, a grade seven student at SCCS. “Once a month, students in each grade are allowed to bring in money to buy treats for themselves at the Tuck Shop,” she explained. “Lots of students decided that they’d forgo their treat and buy more chickens—which is really amazing, because everyone loves the candy at the Tuck Shop!”
Kevin added that when the student council members would go around to the classrooms to collect the chicken money each day, students were thrilled to share how much they’d raised. “Students in the younger grades would yell, ‘Yay! Chicken money!’ when we’d come to the door.”
When asked what their favorite part of buying chickens was, students in the primary grades were quick to share their responses. Maelle, in grade one, shared that it was nice that they could help other people. Claire was excited that she got to write her own name on her chicken and that she could show it to everyone when they walked past it in the hallway. Joel, also in grade one, said, “I like that the chicken pictures go all the way around the school!”
“My favorite part was helping the country have food, because God said that we should help the poor,” shared grade two student Jesse. “And I liked it because maybe they can use the feathers off the chickens and make beds!”
The students plan to present their donation to World Renew Associate Director Peter Bulthuis next week when he joins them for their annual Christmas turkey dinner. “I’m really looking forward to visiting the students and sharing with them the impact that their gift will make,” shared Mr. Bulthuis. He is also excited to be able to speak to the students about the way that World Renew is partnering with communities across the world to not only give gifts, but also to educate the people in them.
“The gift of chickens is a whole lot more important than the gift of money,” he shared. “Chickens require time, food, help, protection … and that means that people need to learn to take care of them—they’re an investment, and the families who are receiving them are a part of the whole development process.”
Mr. Bulthuis continued to explain that it’s important for students to recognize that development in other countries is not easy—it’s a matter of struggling, planning, thinking, working, making mistakes, and building community. “It’s similar to education,” he shared. “Receiving a grade 8 diploma does not mean you’re educated. The education part is whether you can apply what you’ve learned. That’s the same with helping in the development of other countries. The giving of gifts such as chickens helps people learn to plan things, to envision things, and to have hope.”
Mr. Bulthuis is thrilled that the students at SCCS decided to invest their time, effort, and their hearts into giving towards this project. “The work that these emerging young people have done is so valued and deeply important,” he added. “These children are way more advanced in their willingness to reach out than I was at their age!”
Ken Van Minnen, principal at SCCS, has been impressed by the dedication and hard work of the members of this year’s student council to plan and invest in this service project. “Our vision is to provide outstanding, transformative education of mind, body, and spirit so that God may be glorified in the Strathroy community,” he shared. “When students support a ‘chicken drive’, it supports our view of transformative education and gives glory to God, as He is the reason we donate.”
Mr. Van Minnen was also blessed by the giving hearts that the students across the grades expressed in this fundraising event. “Having our students bring in their own money for chickens is a tangible way in which we can see our vision come to life.” He shared a quote from Paul Shane Spear, which he believes embodies the mindset at SCCS: “As one person, I cannot change the world. But I can change the world for one person.”
“Our students believe, as they should, that their actions mean something,” added Mr. Van Minnen, “to people, and to God.”
“Sometimes we don’t think that we can make a difference,” shared Micah, “but when we look at the chickens on the walls as we walk through the hallways, we can remember that all of us have worked together to make a big difference in someone’s life this Christmas.”