By John Anderson
On Wednesday morning at Swanson Road Intermediate School, the Grade 5 students loudly chanted “Turkey, Turkey, Turkey.” After several deafening minutes, the turkey walked in, and the 11th annual Turkey Trot celebration had begun. Physical Education teacher Ann Shane started the tradition back at Julia Bancroft School, and it transitioned nicely to SWIS with twice as many students to participate in the fundraiser for South African students.
Seven years ago, Shane aligned with Pride ‘n Purpose, a charity that benefits six communities and 35,000 residents in Ulusaba, adjacent to the Sabi Sand Game Preserve. All of the charity’s operating expenses are covered by the Virgin Group which operates Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Australia Airlines amongst many other brands. Consequently, 100% of donations directly benefit these disadvantaged communities.
Each year, different people don the turkey costume and entertain the students for a few minutes, but the turkey doesn’t arrive unless the students have met their fundraising goal which was $2,000 this year. School Resource Officer Brian Kennedy put on the suit for the Grade 5 students, teacher Jill Spencer performed for the third grade, and teacher Christina Cody entertained grade 4.
When the donations were counted on Tuesday night, the students had raised an impressive $3,297, and more donations came in on Wednesday. At the end of the school day, $3,780 was the total, and a few more dollars may still trickle in. This is another stellar example of Auburn’s collective generosity.
Many charities are criticized for high overhead and limited benefits to those in need, but not Pride ‘n Purpose. Shane has travelled to South Africa and witnessed the improvements. She sent Auburn Mass Daily five images that are at the beginning of today’s slide show. The first is the one-room Akani schoolhouse of a few years ago, and the second is the expanded and updated building. The third is a playground built with Turkey Trot dollars. The last two are pictures in the village.
The Turkey Trot is a lot of fun for those involved, but the fundraising benefits certainly give SWIS students both Pride and Purpose. Great job!