AT the age of 14 years old, Harnoor Gill had a vision to improve literacy skills among unfortunate children locally as well as worldwide. He dreamed of creating a project where he could fulfill his goal.
Gill, now a grade 10 student at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School in Georgetown, Ontario spoke to his family about his commitment to help others and has never looked back.
Gill, 15, is the founder of Peace Welcome Club (PWC) and is also a student leader in his community of Georgetown, Ontario, and has been volunteering for nearly 11 years.
The PWC that was founded by Gill in February 2012 to encourage other children such as newcomer youth to volunteer in the community. This is a one of a kind youth-led group which has created a lot of buzz worldwide. The age for these volunteers range from 4 to 18 years. Among PWC’s other projects: Jean Green Drive, Book Drive, Shoreline Clean Up, Go Zero Waste and No Hungry Children have made a lot of impact to the community on a local and international level..
The idea of collecting books came up when Gill learned about poverty issues through his trips to local and international communities where he noticed that something needed to be done. At that moment, he promised to take positive steps and attempt to engage other youth around him. The journey was uncertain because there was no financial support from external resources available to support his project. His family was all set to assist him anyways and they did!
One of the biggest initiatives by the PWC was to have a book drive for underprivileged children. The PWC’s goal was to collect books from Peel, Halton and the Greater Toronto Area and donate them within Ontario as well as in India.
At the initial stage, the project was a challenge because Gill was by himself. He spent countless hours writing to newspapers, and advertising in numerous publications in order to get book donations. Gill started going to garage sales, bought books and he even contacted local book stores asking for help. Slowly, the movement became well known within the community. There was no stopping after the spark was on with a mission to raise literacy awareness with a goal of one book at a time. Thousands of books and some school supplies were collected from Halton Hills Christian School, Park Public School, and Gardiner Public School. Books were also donated anonymously to other First Nations children through volunteers. Many people in the community were generous enough to drop off the books at his place in Georgetown. During the collection, books were sorted, recorded, wrapped and packed by Gill with the help of his family and friends.
Many organizations also generously donated books for the PWC book drive. Among these were Kids CBC, The Canadian Living Magazine, Community Living Mississauga, Seva Food Bank, and the publishing company Simon and Schuster. One of the publishers, Scholastic Canada, shipped books directly to Delores D Echum Composite School in northern Ontario. Wastewise, a local non-profit organization in Georgetown generously provided boxes of books. Vintage Wings of Canada delivered books all the way from Gatineau, Quebec to Georgetown, Ontario.
After the books were collected, there was a huge task to ship them to their destinations. Shannon Holmes from Guelph, Ontario with her family did a remarkable job to donate brand new and used books worth $2,000 and deliver the books to First Nations communities in the Hamilton and Guelph area. More than 80 boxes of books were donated to the Native Women Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.
One of the purposes of this book drive was to raise literacy awareness among youth and to let them know that every single person can make a difference in someone’s life. “To collect a book you don’t need a special skill. You just ask around in your community and even four-year-olds can do it,” says Gill. Other purposes were to emphasize recycling by collecting used books so someone else’s waste could eventually become someone else’s treasure.
Through this book drive Gill wanted to engage others in a meaningful discussion and inspire them to do something within their own communities for the future generations. Fellow peers were supported and inspired throughout this project and not only Gill, but all members of the team received recognition in the community. Students from local schools were engaged and everyone did a remarkable job.
Gill hopes to eventually extend his initiative to communities worldwide. “You can’t have everyone on the same page but you can try your best,” suggested Gill. He explained that “the integral part of our green projects can be celebrated while bringing positive attitude as well as inspiring newcomer youth to get involved.”
“All of our projects are run under one forum and that is our facebook page,” he added. “That is really interesting to know that a social media campaign can make a big difference in someone’s life with such a simple and clear message.”
Pamphlets and posters were created and distributed to share to spread the word in communities as far as India, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Nepal.
To find out about the PWC see their facebook fan page and give them a like today: https://www.facebook.com/PeaceWelcomeClub