Sergeant Jim Browne sleeps well at night, knowing that Toronto’s next generation has a social conscience.
Browne has been helping raise money for the charity Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) for the last 13 years. He estimates that he was able to collect about $25,000 in all those years thanks to fellow officers, family, friends and neighbours. However, with the help of friends and family and 1,000 students from Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School, he was able to reach his $25,000 total over the course of 2014 alone.
The charity helps raise funds to buy bed kits for children in the developing world. A bed kits costs $35 and consists of a mat, a pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (to protect children from malaria), clothes or uniform and school supplies. These items allow children to go to school and sleep well at night, while protecting them from malaria.
Browne was especially proud of the students at Marshall McLuhan whom he challenged to raise money for the cause dear to his heart last year.
"Kids get slammed a lot these days, but you can see how something like this affects kids,” said Browne, beaming at the 800 students who gathered in the auditorium to present the cheque to SCAW.
School Counsellor Ada Alampi said the students held bake sales and a pyjama day, amongst other events, to raise $15,420 in the month of December. That translates to 440 bed kits.
At an assembly held at Marshall McLuhan on Jan. 21, members of SCAW told the students the bed kits they raised money for would be going to children in the Philippines – a cause close to home since many of the students at Marshall McLuhan are of Filipino descent.
“We are really proud because, despite where we are located, our students are not from money. We draw from outside the neighbourhood, so nearly $16,000 from them… is a huge accomplishment. So we wanted to take the opportunity with SCAW and Sergeant Browne and Dale Dryden just to say to the school 'way to go we are proud of you.' And, hopefully, to instill in them that, individually, we may not do much but collectively we are really strong. And so it is a feel good moment,” said school Chaplain Linda Izzo.
Two students were congratulated by the principal for raising the most amount of money individually for bed kits. Amanda Arcuri, who secured 10 kits, and Dave Reapatacodo, who gave his entire pay cheque from his part-time job, raised enough money for eight kits.
Arcuri said she decided to share the top spot with Dave since the seventeen-year-old had a very personal story on participating with the charity – his childhood friend, Jose, had passed away from malaria when he was a young boy in the Philippines. Silence fell over the auditorium and many students cried as Dave spoke about his desire to help other children around the world from succumbing to the curable disease.
Dave said he was seven when his friend died and he remembers going to visit him and realizing he was not there anymore.
“His parents started crying and I just ran out of the room,” said the high school student who, to this day, does not like thinking of that moment.
So, when he heard about SCAW and how they were going to be raising funds for bed kits, he didn’t hesitate to donate his hard-earned cash. “In a way, it was kind of honouring him. I wasn’t able to help him back then, but now it was the right thing to do.”
For Dave Dryden, whose father started the charity more than 30 years ago, there is nothing better than seeing young people come together for a cause. “The future is going to be good… there is hope.”
Dryden went on to praise Sergeant Browne.
“I’m amazed by the impact he has had because of his passion… You never know saying something to someone and what can come out of it,” said Dryden, on Browne’s ability to inspire the students to take part in giving back.