Cold Comfort

University of Alberta students take a chilly plunge for a good cause

The University of Alberta has been supporting United Way of the Alberta Capital Region for more than 30 years, cumulatively contributing more than $11 million. In that time, supporters have dreamed up some unique ways to raise money, including the Turkey Trot, Loopy Lunch, the Plasma Car Derby and the Green and Gold Day Barbecue.

But Alberta JDC West’s Chillin’ for Charity event – which involves students, faculty members and other United Way supporters sporting costumes and plunging into a frigid outdoor pool – is arguably the most unique. It has raised more than $100,000 for United Way.

As the VP Internal for Alberta JDC West, Kyle Duperron, a fourth year U of A business student, took the lead on organizing this year’s Chillin’ for Charity, which took place on November 16 and raised more than $12,000.

Duperron was pleased to help raise money and awareness for the organization. “United Way is obviously a great cause,” he says. “All the money we raise stays in the Edmonton area. That meant a lot to me, having lived in the community for 15 years now.”

As always, the event was a big hit, drawing crowds from all over campus to watch the approximately 150 jumpers. “It’s nice and cold and wakes everyone up,” he says with a laugh.

Duperron said this year, for the first time, the jumpers raised funds via an online portal that was shareable on social media, streamlining the process of collecting donations. The peer-to-peer giving campaign page was a pilot between United Way and organizers and was successful in that it raised pledges and donations significantly.

Dean Joseph Doucet of the University of Alberta’s School of Business was a jumper in this year’s event, and raised more than $1,400, thanks to donations from friends and colleagues. He says the event provides a student bonding experience while raising money for a good cause.

Doucet’s reasons for supporting the event are twofold: not only does he believe in United Way’s vision, but he is also keen on showing students the importance of community involvement. “I want to walk the walk,” he says. “It’s important in my mind that I participate in these kinds of activities.”

One thing Doucet appreciates about United Way is that the organization operates across North America, making it an ideal partner. “The university is very international, so when someone moves from Denver or Vancouver to Edmonton, they are familiar with United Way,” said Doucet, adding he also appreciates the organization’s broad mandate.

Weronika Michalska, United Way’s campaign manager for corporate partnerships, says the collaboration between the not-for-profit and the university is important as access to education sets people up for greater success in their lives. She added that the organizations share many values, such as the importance of education, wellness and financial support for those in need.

Michalska says, as future leaders, it’s important for students to feel connected, develop a spirit of philanthropy and gain an understanding of the complexities of poverty. “Students are motivated to have a positive impact in their community.”

Resources for Students

Between the high cost of living and rising tuition, some students simply don’t have enough money for food. The Campus Food Bank distributes food items and toiletries to all members of the University of Alberta community: students, staff, alumni and their children. Last year, the Food Bank was able to provide enough food to feed over 2,500 individuals. For more information, visit campusfoodbank.com.

Students can also contact the Office of the Registrar for information about financial support at the University of Alberta. Visit www.registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca.

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