The Yamaska Valley Optimist Club (YVOC) recently donated 13 calculators to the Math Department at Massey-Vanier High School (MVHS). It is the second year the group has taken on the initiative, and it has helped fill in a gap for the classrooms missing the material. With a mission to support children in the area, the group also runs the school’s Cinderella program, which provides low-cost prom dresses and accessories to MVHS students, as well as a thrift shop. Always finding ways to give back, the group is now looking for the same support from the community to keep up with its initiatives.
“Our main tasks are to support kids in the area,” said Judy Henderson, president of YVOC. “We raise money to give to the schools. For each elementary school we have what we call a backpack program where we raise money and give money so if any school supplies are missing in a kid’s backpack we can replenish it. In our meetings, we talk about which schools have these needs. One of our members works at Massey-Vanier and says a big need there is calculators.”
“We were able to give them to the math department. We don’t know how they make them available, but just a lot of kids can’t remember to bring one with them or they just don’t have one,” added Sandra Smith, founding member of YVOC.
Smith explained that the Cinderella Program started when a boutique owner in Granby closed her business.
“She had these prom dresses and wedding dresses that she was going to get rid of. A good friend of mine, who is a member of the club, said they can’t just be thrown in the dump; we will take them.”
The group decided to approach MVHS to see if they would be interested. “We were given a place to store them and we were given free rein over how we wanted to get these to the kids. The idea was that people are going to be overwhelmed with the cost of finding a prom dress. Some people also think that it’s almost wrong to buy more clothing. There is this whole idea of recycling a beautiful dress.”
Once the community found out, things eventually snowballed to MVHS receiving its own thrift shop. “Then it wasn’t just prom dresses, but cocktail dresses, bridesmaid dresses, jeans, sweatshirts, coats, and boots. This room we were using was outgrown and we realized that not only is there a need for these kinds of items on an everyday basis, but also a need for people to feel like they can pass on these things and do good doing it.”
The group would do pop-up sales for the thrift shop to get the clothes out to the students and showcase the prom apparel at different academic events, but like many community organizations, their initiatives have been stalled by the pandemic.
“We just sent out letters to a bunch of mayors and different groups for this year because our fundraising abilities were hit by Covid,” said Henderson.
YVOC’s major fundraiser is its International Women’s Day event. “In 2020 it was cancelled and in 2021 we had an online virtual International Women’s Day. This year, the committee is getting together for something else; a new fundraiser online. These are the funds that we use to be able to buy these calculators and put supplies in the kids backpacks.”
The group also supports the BMP cancer walk through its annual summer garage sale and the school’s breakfast programs, but Henderson emphasized that they started to grow concerned last year. “We don’t have much money coming in because of Covid. We can’t fundraise, we can’t do the barn dance, and certain things we just had to cancel. We really rely on donations right now and support from community.”
To support the YVOC, keep an eye out for the groups International Women’s Day announcements and for its new updated website where a donation tab will be made available. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.