It was a devastating earthquake four years ago that shook a group of Surrey students into action.
The January 2010 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti killed between 200,000-300,000 people and injured another 300,000, destroying thousands of homes and displacing more than a million residents.
Four friends – Amanbir Atwal, Amneet Athwal, Kiran Mann and Livleen Pannu – decided to have a bottle drive to raise funds for victims of the natural disaster. They were in Grade 9 and managed to collect $1,000 to help those in Haiti.
That lit a spark. The quartet formed the group Youth Transforming Society and haven’t looked back.
Now the group boasts about 85 volunteers and has raised nearly $7,000 for various organizations, including Oxfam, BC Children’s Hospital and the Canadian Red Cross.
“We never initially had this vision of making it this big, but that’s what it’s grown to and now we’re loving doing it,” said Atwal, 18, who along with the other founders, is now in second-year university.
“Because the first event was so successful, it gave us the motivation to keep going and make things bigger and better.”
Last week, YTS held a free event in Surrey in hopes of passing other young people the charitable bug. Called Volunteering and Beyond, the evening at Panorama Ridge Secondary welcomed about 50 organizations which shared their volunteer opportunities with mostly-high school-aged attendees.
YTS is now looking forward to its second-annual holiday breakfast on Dec. 20 at Surrey Community Church (134 Street and 96 Avenue). Last year, 300 people in need were served hearty breakfasts.