Class donates $1,200 to local charity

What started as a class requirement has become an incredible act of charity, as the 54 students in SY216, the Sociology of Aging, have raised $1,200 for the Alzheimer Society of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Out Reach Program.

“This really speaks to the kind of students we have here at Laurier,” said course instructor Kimberly Ellis-Hale.

“[The students] have really shown that if you raise the bar high enough and you say ‘you’re responsible,’ of course they’ll rise to the occasion. It’s really wonderful to see.”

SY216 is an investigation of the aging process within the context of today’s society.

The requirements of the course range from standard assignments, such as a mid-term and an exam, to more unique aspects like a sociological experiment in which students are made to look old and then go out into society for 40 minutes.

Another component of the course requires students to perform 18-20 hours of volunteer work with seniors through Community Service Learning at Laurier.

This is where the students’ donation project began.

“It was noted in class that there wasn’t much [charitable work] around the university for Thanksgiving,” said Ellis-Hale.

“So I asked the class how they wanted to give back and we decided to set up a bucket in class and the students could give whatever they wanted, they didn’t have to give anything. They would then come up with the ideas about where the money should go.”

According to Ellis-Hale, due to financial cutbacks, many nursing homes weren’t able to have an employee train students to work in a nursing home. So Charlotte, a representative from the Out Reach Program, did a presentation for the class.

“Charlotte was absolutely wonderful,” said Ellis-Hale. “She was so supportive and encouraging; she kept saying ‘I know someone in this room is going to find the cure for Alzheimer’s.’”

It was largely thanks to that influence, that the students decided to donate the money to the Alzheimer’s Society of Kitchener-Waterloo‘s Out Reach Program from 10 possibilities.

“So much of what we cover in class, [the students] see in their placements,” said Ellis-Hale.

“Not many people will be lining up to work with seniors, but these students do it, and for many of them it’s changed their lives…. I’ve had students write that it’s the best time of their week because they go in and it’s not about them anymore.”

Now, simply through contributions to the bucket during class and through an additional donation from a member of Community Service Learning at Laurier, the class has raised exactly $1,216.97.

“Every week the class submits comments on the course and one of the most wonderful things has been in one of the comments from a student, they wrote ‘you’re right, we really can make a difference,’” said Ellis-Hale.

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