A brief history of Shinerama’s impact in Kitchener-Waterloo

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On Saturday, Sept. 8, Wilfrid Laurier’s orientation week celebration for incoming students will host Shine Day, the main event for Shinerama, a charitable fundraiser involving numerous campuses through Canada that raises money for cystic fibrosis research through Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

For those first year students getting involved in O-week, the final day of the celebration features a fundraiser, where students spread out across Kitchener and Waterloo, cheering and raising money from 9 am to 3 pm, hoping for compassionate individuals to whip their spare change at them for a good cause.

Shinerama in Kitchener-Waterloo has a long-spanning and rich history, and it’s success comes as no surprise as it is a hallmark of O-Week at Laurier. Last year, Shinerama raised over $126,000, with Shine Day alone bringing in over $69,000.

The event started at Wilfrid Laurier University in 1961, and since then has grown exponentially in both popularity and scale. Following a partnership with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1964, the fundraiser grew. By 1965, Shinerama became a large organization with dedicated events across university and college campuses in Canada.

Shinerama was not always dedicated to the barbecues and car washes that grew it into the fundraising juggernaut that it currently is. It began as a shoe-shining service, but quickly evolved with its popularity to include washing cars, barbecues and collecting donations as well.

Adriana Marich, the Shinerama coordinator for Waterloo, has noticed the impact that Shinerama has been able to make at Laurier, both on the campus and university life as a whole throughout its time.

“Keep an open mind when you hear the speakers during Orientation Week and try to reach out to their stories and identify and relate to them, because it’s gonna help you tremendously.”

“In my opinion, Shinerama and Shine Day are the heart of O-Week; it’s what family and friends in Kitchener-Waterloo know us by — they know [that] the first week of September is like, ‘Oh it’s Shine Day,’ and will see everybody there,” said Marich. “I do think that we made it the heart of O-Week and a big part of what Kitchener-Waterloo stands for.”

Marich recognizes the success of Shinerama, especially in Kitchener-Waterloo, understanding that it is large in part due to the consideration, donation and kindness of those who are current or former students at Laurier, as well as a reflection of the hard work that has characterized Laurier as a school.

“A lot of people that are donating to us are alumni, which is amazing. They [think] ‘Oh I used to be on the Shinerama committee’ or ‘I was a breaker and I was getting online donations,’ so I definitely think it’s a huge part because it started here,” Marich said. “But then I just think that because Laurier’s O-Week is so well known and we’re number one in student satisfaction, a big part of that is going out to Shine Day and having icebreakers and Shine and Go Team and committees like that be around us.”

Marich recounts the history of her own involvement with Shinerama as well, recalling it as a major point of connection between her and her fellow members of residence.

“In first year I went to my Shine Day, and I remember [thinking] ‘Oh yeah, I’m getting close to my floor, but it’s okay, we’re semi-close’ and then as soon as Shine Day hits and you’re outside for eight hours with your floor you’re like, ‘Wow, this is an amazing experience’ and people give you a fifty and you go crazy,” Marich said.

“I had such a good experience that when all my friends were applying for icebreaking at the end of first year I was like ‘No, I need to apply for Shinerama.’ This is my third year now and it’s a big part of who I am. It’s a big part of what this school stands for and I’m really happy to help and support it,” Marich said.

Reflecting on the historical success of Shinerama at Laurier, it is important to look forward as well.

The event would not be what it is without all the various members who contribute to it and get involved, more so because it is what defines the community spirit at Laurier.

“I think it’s really important [to get involved], because I think when you get involved in university, especially after high school ,” Marich said.

“If you go away from home, you identify yourself differently, you find new things you’re interested in or find new groups of people that work well with you.“

“Getting involved really helps with that, because you find the people that are also passionate about different things or want to barbecue and raise money for a good cause,” she said.

For the incoming students, Marich recommends simple advice.

“Keep an open mind when you hear the speakers during Orientation Week and try to reach out to their stories and identify and relate to them, because it’s gonna help you tremendously,” Marich said.

“[And] if you see us on September 8, come give us some donations, chuck your change at us, we’d be happy to give you a sticker, a good smile and some fling bling.”

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