Virtual Student Art Auction to benefit homeless youths in Orillia

By: Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Art for teens’ sake.
That’s the concept behind the Virtual Student Art Auction run by high  school students for future homeless youths at the new Lighthouse  Community Services shelter.
“Some kids are forced to parent themselves,” said Paige Hannan, one  of the Student of Hope ambassadors from Orillia Secondary School. “I  think there’s a misunderstanding of what youth homelessness is. Kids are  getting kicked out by their parents or they choose to leave because  they don’t feel safe at home. That’s what homelessness is.
“Some of my friends are going through something at home, and I don’t think it’s that uncommon.”
Hannan is one of three students from Orillia Secondary School,  including Meghan Sawatsky and Rachel Jeon. Caelan Ferguson and Franchi  Torchia assist from Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School.
During the last two-year campaign, Twin Lakes Secondary School has  also had students on board, said Lynn Thomas, campaign manager for the  Lighthouse shelter.
The new shelter will have 40 emergency beds for men, women, youths and families.
“The community has really rallied around the Lighthouse, but we’ve  always wanted to get the students involved. They’re the future of the  Lighthouse volunteers and staff,” Thomas said.
The capital fundraising campaign reached its goal of $14.5 million in mid-April, she said.
The students are raising $50,000 for naming rights of one of the five  designated youth bedrooms in the James A. Burton and Family Foundation  Youth Wing. The foundation has donated to the capital campaign in memory  of Burton’s son Jeffrey, who was a troubled teenager when he died.
The Burton foundation has also offered to match $3 for every $1 the Students of Hope campaign raises through its art auction.
The teens have raised half of their $50,000 goal, with $25,448 already donated, said Hannan.
The Virtual Student Art Auction is looking for donated creations to add to their growing list of objets d’art created by students from preschool up to Grade 12, she said. Cash donations will also be accepted.
The auction will begin May 27 and bidding will close on May 29. For more information, visit