High school students raise money to fight tetanus

Students at Lisgar Collegiate Institute raising funds to support the school’s Reach For the Top trivia team are also contributing to a global effort to combat deadly tetanus infections.

Lisgar’s Key Club was scheduled to host its annual Spaghetti Dinner and Trivia Night on Nov. 29 to help end maternal/neonatal tetanus by raising money for The Eliminate Project.

The Eliminate Project is a joint campaign between Kiwanis International and UNICEF to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus, or MNT, globally by 2015.

According to The Eliminate Project website, “MNT” occurs when tetanus spores, found in soil throughout the world, come into contact with open cuts during childbirth.

The disease exists mainly in countries where unsanitary childbirth is common, including a number of countries in Africa and southern Asia.

The effects of the disease on newborns are repeated, painful convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light and touch. Nearly 60,000 babies die each year as a result of the disease, most never having been held.

Key Club International is a student-led organization whose goal is to teach leadership through helping, and is part of the Kiwanis International family of service-leadership programs.

Anna Hou, president of Lisgar Key Club, says she thinks the money the group receives from this event will be enough to make a difference.

She notes that “$1.80 can buy three vaccines, so if we raise $1,000, that’s a huge thing.”

The event will combine the traditional meal and game with a silent auction for the first time.

Lisgar Key Club will work with the school’s Reach for the Top team, which will receive a portion of the profits to fund trips to the provincial and regional trivia competitions it has been able to qualify for consistently in recent years.

The 2012 spaghetti dinner introduced the first silent auction, but did not include a trivia portion.

Lisa McWhinnie, one of Lisgar Key Club’s staff supervisors, says she thinks bringing back the trivia game will help the two groups exceed the $1,000 they raised last year.

“We can sell up to 200 tickets,” she says. “With trivia we usually sell out, and last year I don’t think we did. Trivia is the big draw, so hopefully we’ll raise more this year.”

The silent auction will allow attendees to bid on a variety of items donated by businesses throughout the community, including hair salons, video stores and restaurants.

Organizers have also received donations of bread and pastries for the evening’s dinner from Elgin Street bakeries Boko and Brown Loaf.

Yoko Akiyama, owner of Boko Bakery, says she wants to help both the cause and Lisgar students, who are frequent customers at her store.

“We are like a community, this area, so whether it’s a school within the community or some other event, if people need something I always want to support them,” she says.

McWhinnie says these types of donations have become possible because of a growing awareness about the event.

“The donations from the community are just fantastic,” she says. “We do advertise and put up posters around school, and I find it does sell out because it has become so popular over the years.”

The two groups will split the profits from ticket sales, and the Key Club will get the money raised through the silent auction.