Skip To Content
TISS Treasure Chest Connects Students, Community Members with Life Essentials
TISS Treasure Chest Connects Students, Community Members with Life Essentials
Posted on 02/28/2024
TISS Treasure Chest

February 27, 2024 (Brockville, ON) - Students at Thousand Islands Secondary School (TISS) may call themselves the Pirates, but unlike their greedy namesake, they are more than happy to share their treasure with those in need. 

The newly-formed TISS Treasure Chest is a student-led initiative, working to connect students in need with food, clothing, and hygiene products. Thanks to the hard work and determination of all those involved, in a few short months this real-world learning initiative has expanded considerably, with students generating a variety of tangible and practical techniques to drive donations and community involvement.

In the fall, the Grade 10 English students read “Tex,” a book that featured teenage brothers who lived in poverty and lacked basic necessities. The students were stunned by the realization that their peers could be struggling in similar ways, and discussed how they could help reduce barriers for those in need in their school community.

“It's about learning how the children in the book are surviving poverty and how, just like in the real world, there are so many struggles growing up with not enough money, food, or clothes,” explained Grade 10 student and Treasure Chest leader Teran Ker. “We made the Treasure Chest because the main character in the book didn't have as many clothes or much food, and we realized that those students are in our school.”

With the idea for the program firmly planted in their minds, the students started to brainstorm plans to get the TISS Treasure Chest up and running. The project moved from an English class project to an after-school-for-credit business course, with many of the same students participating, and they began applying marketing techniques to the initiative, further driving the scope and reach of the project. To spark increased community involvement, students visited local businesses with fundraising letters in hand, offering social media exposure for financial backing and donations.

Community partnerships have helped keep the Treasure Chest stocked, with 1000 Islands Toyota and PhotoVisions providing monetary donations, and The Score, Pharmasave, Boardwalk Dental, and more offering up much needed supplies. Wardrobes were also procured from the local Canadian Tire at significant discount to organize the clothing, food, and various hygiene products available to anyone who may be in need.

Students have also been collaborating with the Hospitality class, extending the real-world learning opportunities, and raising awareness of the project within the school. The class has been preparing and serving up hot, hearty lunches once a week. Healthy frozen meals are also available to take home daily.

Students can stop by the Treasure Chest classroom anytime to access goods or can request items anonymously.

"As an educator, my purpose is to lead students to see that their education is relevant and impactful in their own life and that their effort is rewarded through personal and academic growth,” explains Kelleyanne MacKenzie, teacher lead on the initiative. “I have witnessed true transformation in my students who struggled with attendance and, self-admittedly, didn't see school as important. Those students are thriving in this real-world learning project, attending class regularly and furthering the initiative on their own time. They are networking within the community and their literacy and business skills have drastically improved.”

Student Cameron Pos is proud of what the program has brought to the school. “[This program] is really important. I feel like we've done so much in such little time. When I went to Metro, I was pretty scared because I have a really hard time talking to people sometimes, but I felt I could ask for donations to get help for people.”

“This project exemplifies Real-World Learning at its best!” says Jacqueline Hoogwerf, Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) RWL Partner. “Students are engaging in meaningful work and witnessing firsthand the impact they can have in their own community. Students are reading and writing for a purpose and their work is rooted in meaning and serves to answer the "why?". The Treasure Chest is also sustainable and can be diversified and extended according to student voice. It is truly inspiring!” 

On Feb. 23, in partnership with Connect Youth’s Coldest Night of the Year, the Treasure Chest held its first “Fill-a-Tent Event” with great success.

Students involved in the Treasure Chest accepted donations outside the school at the front entrance for the day, collecting blankets, pillows, sleeping bag, food and hygiene products all to support homeless youth or those at risk of it.

Upcoming events for the group include a formal wear drive for prom and Grade 8 graduation, and a food drive leading up to Easter.

“I am so excited about the Treasure Chest,” said TISS Principal Laura Oliver. “Apart from the fact that it is serving the needs of vulnerable students in our community, it is also helping the students involved in the project to grow and learn in leaps and bounds. I am so proud of our students for their initiative and dedication. They have become role models at TISS and they are showing the entire community that young people can make a constructive contribution. They are having a positive impact on our school and on themselves!”

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.