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Space camp ticks closer to liftoff

U.S. group chips in $15,000

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am

COSMIC BARBECUE – Students Kennedy Love, Isabelle Poulin and Mia Cowper were out in full force at the Village Landing Save-On Foods Sunday running a barbecue to raise funds for the Save Our Space Camp group. The barbecue was one of several fundraisers to take place last weekend.
COSMIC BARBECUE – Students Kennedy Love, Isabelle Poulin and Mia Cowper were out in full force at the Village Landing Save-On Foods Sunday running a barbecue to raise funds for the Save Our Space Camp group. The barbecue was one of several fundraisers to take place last weekend.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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St. Albert’s space camp kids are T-minus $10,500 until launch as of this week.

Donations continued to pour into the Save Our Space Camp fund this week following last weekend’s comedy night fundraiser at the Kinsmen Hall.

City residents rallied to form the Save Our Space Camp group last month after the travel company Experiential Education and Tours collapsed, scuttling the plans of about 100 St. Albert parents and students to go to the space camp at Quebec’s Cosmodome. The group lost about $250,000 in the process.

The group needs about $133,000 by April 19 to send the 71 students and 22 chaperones on the trip later this month, said Heather Kemp, the group’s co-chair. They had $122,500 in the bank as of Monday afternoon.

Kemp said the group was still crunching the numbers, but likely raised $5,300 from the comedy night, plus a yet-to-be-determined amount from the weekend’s barbecues and bottle drives.

The community’s generosity has been unbelievable, Kemp said. “At our barbecue, people were driving up and just holding $50 bills out the window for the kids to put in the jar,” she said.

On Monday, an elderly man walked into Ronald Harvey Elementary and handed the principal a cheque for $2,000, Kemp said. “He said, ‘Send the kids to space camp.’”

Saturday’s comedy show was about 75 per cent sold out and produced a lot of laughs, says Save Our Space Camp media co-ordinator Chuck Mulholland.

“(Host) Andrew Grose was amazing,” he said, especially when he spoke of how he got involved with this fundraiser. “He actually got quite emotional on stage. It was kind of a special moment.”

American aid

The campaign received its first international donation late last week in the form of $15,000 from the Student & Youth Travel Association Youth Foundation.

The Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) is a Virginia-based non-profit trade group that promotes student and youth travel and seeks to foster professionalism amongst student travel groups. The foundation is its charitable wing.

Kemp said her group had actually been contacted by the foundation several times through Facebook but had not replied until recently as it was suspicious of the offer. “It just seemed too good to be true that this group in the (U.S.) wanted to give us money.”

The foundation sends hundreds of typically underprivileged students on trips each year with the aim to change their lives through travel, said executive director Carylann Assante.

“Our mission is ‘travel changes lives,’” she said, and her talks with the space camp kids convinced her that this trip would change them for the better.

“It wasn’t these students’ fault that this situation occurred,” she said. “We just wanted to reach out and make a difference.”

Experiential Education and Tours was not a member of SYTA and not bound by its rules, Assante said. Those rules require members to have at least $250,000 in bonds or credit handy as well as $1 million in liability insurance to compensate customers should they go bankrupt.

Assante advised groups who are arranging student trips to get multiple bids and make sure that the companies they deal with are either SYTA members or have consumer protection plans in place. “They need to do due diligence.”

Kemp said the space camp group was still tallying donations from local businesses such as Starbucks and Subway as of Monday. The group’s next big fundraiser is the silent auction on April 19.

“Hopefully, that will be all we need.”

Excess funds will go towards the Breakfast for Learning Alberta.

Visit www.facebook.com/SOSC2014 for more on the campaign.


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