For our final ‘Club of the Month’ feature of the 2020/21 session, we are excited to be speaking to both Mrs Smart from The Mary Erskine School and Mrs Bennett from Stewart's Melville College as we place a spotlight on our charitable clubs, the MES Charities Committee and SMC Aid, who both play an instrumental role in the Schools’ efforts to give back to the community.
Known for their creative and inspiring charitable endeavours; from sweet sales and foodbank collections to sponsored sleepouts, we caught up with both clubs to find out all about their fundraising this year.
What has been your favourite fundraising activity this year?
SMC: Probably the amazing effort of the SMC Bobble Hats in a joint venture with the PE Department to fundraise for MyName5Doddie Foundation, a great cause for a much-loved member of the school community who was delighted to receive his own bobble hat too.
Doddie Weir wearing his very own SMC Bobble Hat
MES: In December we supported Social Bite’s Festival of Kindness. Social Bite installed a 15-metre-high Christmas Tree in Edinburgh and we helped by collecting presents for homeless and vulnerable people. The presents were delivered to the big Christmas tree in St Andrew’s Square and the charity representative was overwhelmed by the number of gifts we handed in, telling us what a difference they would make to so many people who are homeless and/or vulnerable.
We know that you have been incredibly busy over the past year! What is your current fundraising total for the year?
SMC: At the moment, our fundraising total is sitting at £5,695! However, since we are still waiting on the funds from ongoing initiatives this will likely add another £2,000 to the total. Much has been done to raise awareness of initiatives and encourage volunteering in the pandemic this year, not least through Guidance staff in the second lockdown who helped people shielding by doing their shopping and other errands.
MES: We are still awaiting our final fundraising total however we managed to raise over £1,700 by selling ethical and sustainable face masks as well as over £200 from a MES Slipper Day, to name a few!
What has been your proudest achievement as a club?
SMC: Rather than a specific achievement, I am most proud of the kindness and spirit of giving that runs throughout the whole SMC Community. We never struggle for volunteers or for ideas. Initiatives come from all over our community and so much of it goes unsung. That makes me more proud to work here than anything else. From a very personal stance, the partnership that ESMS have forged with Finlay’s Friends is very close to my heart and I could not run this charity in memory of my son, nor meet the needs of so many families with children rushed to hospital in an emergency, without the immense kindness and support of colleagues and pupils. I am more grateful than they know.
MES: At the end of the session when I sit down with some of the committee members to go through all the events we have organised and initiatives we have led, I am always so proud of what we have achieved! The activities I enjoy are ones where we have collections: Harvest Collection, Tree of Kindness, Easter Egg collection to name a few. I really think it is lovely to be able to help others and it is great for the pupils to see how much they have collected together as a group.
Do you have future goals for your club?
SMC: To co-run a bigger and even better second Earth Aid week in November in collaboration with the SMC Eco-Committee! And to promote the giving of time and energy to good causes, just as much as fundraising for them.
MES: As a committee, we need to keep going to both improve existing initiatives and also to keep coming up with new ideas. We always have lots of suggestions for local charities as S2 have been involved with YPI, however, I am keen for the committee to have good representatives/liaisons with the rest of the year group by speaking to their peers and seeking out new initiatives.
For those who would like to join you in your efforts, how can they start?
SMC: We would encourage you to come along to any meeting (S3/4 and S5 meet separately on alternate Thursdays) or share your fundraising/volunteering ideas with Mrs Bennett/Mrs Frost/Miss Macdonald at any time!
MES: Nominations for the committees are made at the start of the year and then there is a ballot where all pupils vote for the members, with meetings occurring every half term in my room after school.
Thank you to both Mrs Smart and Mrs Bennett for taking the time to catch up with us at the end of a busy term, and congratulations to every member of our charitable committees for another successful year of fundraising and volunteering, even under very unusual circumstances. Lastly we would like to thank everyone in our ESMS community who has supported the committees by giving their money and time over the course of the year.