Even during COVID-19, the tradition continues, as a chocolate-based Saanich fundraiser is back once again.
The Hot Chocolate Stand for Hope was started by high school student Maia Bell-McLenan to raise funds for a variety of charities and non-profits.
Now Bell-McLenan’s 12-year-old friend Annika Akeroyd is taking over the fundraiser.
“I did the planning and my parents have helped me with it but I’ve kind of continued it this year,” says Akeroyd.
This year’s fundraiser will look a little different.
Instead of pouring piping hot cups of cocoa, Akeroyd will be handing out take-home kits to limit physical contact.
“We’re not doing cups of hot chocolate, we’re doing bags with hot chocolate mix in them,” says Akeroyd. They’re still getting a treat but it’s safer, there’s not going to be as much contact.”
This year the money raised will go to Plan International’s Fast Track Schools for Girls program.
“This charity is about getting girls who haven’t had the opportunity to go to school into school and getting them up to speed so that they can kind of move on with their education,” says Akeroyd.
As a Grade 7 student at St. Margaret’s School, Akeroyd is eager to help young girls around the world who are in far different circumstances from herself.
“Knowing that I can make a difference with another girl who doesn’t have that opportunity that makes me feel super empowered,” says Akeroyd.
She’s already raised $700 – a pretty impressive feat for a student still in middle school.
“Just hearing about it is incredible,” says Annika’s humanities teacher Meaghan Thompson. “To know that’s how she’s spending her time to bring extra magic to our community and the people in it and even beyond that is truly admirable,” Thompson adds.
The fundraiser takes place Sunday, Dec. 13 in the Reynolds Secondary School parking lot from 12 until 3. There is also a donation page set up for those unable to attend in person.