A group of Algonquin College recreation and leisure services students have raised nearly $3,000 in funds, and an immeasurable amount of awareness towards Do It For Daron (DIFD) youth mental health.
Students Tia Taft, Cathy Dowsett, Julianna Alibrando and Dakota Ostrowski have long surpassed their assignment goal of $500 for their second-year community development class.
However, this has become much more than just a class project according to the entire group.
“The most important thing about this project is raising awareness and trying to decrease the stigma of depression and mental illness,” said Dowsett. “There’s no shame in not being okay, it’s okay to not be okay.”
The team will be hosting a fundraiser trivia night on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Buster’s Bar & Grill in Kanata from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Teams of three to five, individuals and families are all welcome. Trivia teams can contact Dowsett at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. A silent auction featuring prizes donated by local businesses will also take place.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, the team will be drawing a 50/50 raffle. The winner will receive half of the amount raised, with the other going towards DIFD. Tickets can be purchased for $2 by contacting Ostrowski at email@example.com.
Aside from the events, Taft has been taking orders for her own English rock buns, made from ingredients donated by Brandon & Megan’s No Frills in Stittsville. The rock buns have become very popular according to Taft, especially after adding a fall-themed tweak.
“I thought, you know cinnamon, that’s quite a nice feel-good warm for this time of year,” said Taft. “Maybe I’ll do a cinnamon rock bun, so I did. I changed the theme, so it complemented, and all of the sudden the injection of orders came in.”
Taft, an international student from England, has been amazed by Canadian hospitality. Multiple small businesses are running themed programs like tea parties and bazaars featuring her rock buns.
Individuals have also come forward, volunteering their time to help fundraise.
“It just proves that when it’s for something that’s a good cause, people are willing to help,” said Taft. “You’ve just got to show that passion and that support just comes rolling in abundance.”
Dealing with mental illness can be a struggle for many, especially with the added layer of stress during the pandemic.
The chosen good cause, DIFD, supports education, awareness and research initiatives at The Royal in Ottawa, which encourage youth to talk openly about mental illness and to ask for help when needed.
“Care enough to act is the community development motto,” said community development professor Kevin Lee. “These guys certainly have cared so much, I’m certainly proud of the work that they’ve done and will continue to do. I think it’ll be something that they will hold in their hearts as they move forward.”