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Students at Sir John Franklin high school pose at the end of their 30-hour famine, holding the banners they made. Top fundraisers Meghan Marchildon and Sasha Stride kneel on the far right behind the banner. - photo courtesy of David Rankine

Going hungry for charity

Alix McNaught
Northern News Services
Published Friday, April 11, 2008

YELLOWKNIFE - This Friday and Saturday, all over Canada, students will be going 30 hours without food for World Vision Canada's annual 30 Hour Famine.

Grade 9 to 12 students at Sir John Franklin high school got a jump on the crowds and held their famine Feb. 8 and 9.

There were 29 participants from Yellowknife last year, all from Sir John Franklin high school.

They raised $3,419.86 in funds which, according to Karen Flores, a communications officer with World Vision Canada, was considerably more than many communities in Canada.

"The famine is a really big part of World Vision Canada's donations," she said. "Last year in Canada, kids raised $4.5 million."

For the past two years, the 30 Hour Famine at Sir John's has been organized by David Rankine, a teacher in the French Immersion department.

"I set a goal for them to double last year's amount," said Rankine.

Students managed to raise just under $5,000, even though there were three fewer fundraisers this year.

To participate, students must raise the minimum of $100.

Top fundraisers this year were Meghan Marchildon and Sasha Stride, who raised $1,300 between them.

According to Flores, World Vision has approximately 9,000 projects on the go and selects from among them where to send the money raised through the famine events.

This year, money will go towards nutrition and food projects in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Ecuador and Cambodia, as well as to water projects in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Sierra Leone.

Participating students stopped eating at 7 a.m. on the Friday morning, which was a designated P.D. Day, so they did not have to show up at school until 4 p.m. Students gave themselves a team name of Rapid Juiced Hipqos.

Activities were planned throughout the evening, with both a games and a movie room set up.

Rankine warned students, however, that he would be doing "decency checks" and made sure lights were left on to avoid any untoward behaviour.

At midnight, when the school's lights turn off, students had a scavenger hunt.

Most stayed awake until 2 a.m., although Rankine said some students were exhausted and asleep by 9 or 10 p.m.

While eating is against the rules, students are allowed as much fruit juice as they wish, and if they are feeling weak, can have a cup of steamed rice.

The 30 hours ended at noon on the Saturday, and students were treated to a make-your-own-sub lunch.

"There's quite a few of them that have two or three subs," said Rankine, adding that the experience of going hungry is not lost on those who participate.

"Some students have difficulty believing there are students in the world who go through this every day. I think it's quite mind-expanding for them to realize that."