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NNSL Photo/graphic

Students Yvonne Kubluitok and Mike Tulugak are presented with the bags they won at Simon Alaittuq school this past week by RCMP Sgt. Gavin Nash and project organizer Belinda Ugjuk. Students at the school raised more than $500 for the RCMP Christmas hamper drive by purchasing $1 tickets on a draw for the bags. - photo courtesy of Belinda Ugjuk

A ticket for giving

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Dec 20/06) - Students at Simon Alaittuq school in Rankin Inlet pitched in to help out the annual RCMP Christmas hamper drive in a big way this year.

The students came together to raise $519.46 for the hamper drive.

The annual Christmas hamper drive is co-sponsored by the RCMP and members of the Rankin Inlet Fire Department.

The drive sees vouchers distributed to local families in need of a little extra help during the holiday season.

The vouchers can be spent as cash at local retailers, but cannot be used to purchase things such as tobacco items.

Belinda Ugjuk says raising more than $500 at a school with only 124 students shows just how much effort the kids put into helping the hamper drive this year.

She says the school has been raising money for the hamper drive by holding a unique lottery, of sorts, for the past three years.

"We make a school bag, or bags, and the teachers donate items to put inside them such as school supplies, books, games, candies and toys," says Ugjuk.

"The students buy a ticket on the draw for the bags for only $1.

"During the first two years we did this, we raised between $150 to $240, so the students really went all out this year to more than double our previous high amount.

"I wouldn't have believed how far this little project would go in just three years when I first came up with the idea."

Ugjuk says teachers and staff at the school give the project strong support every year by donating lots of great items for the bags.

She says the draw is only for students and no tickets are sold outside the school.

"I talk to the students about the project every year and explain that, even though it's nice to win a bag, it's more important to think about the families being helped each time a ticket is bought.

"Knowing you did a little bit to help out a family during the holidays is far more important than winning a draw.

"This year, the students would come looking to buy a ticket every time they could scrape a dollar together.

"It was a special little experience because you could tell they were buying the tickets for all the right reasons."