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GIVING BACK

Raising money for causes one charity at a time Add to ...

The Donors: Isabel Ng-Lai and Miranda Dela Cruz

The Gift: Creating 1Focus

The Cause: Raising money for Canadian and international organizations

When Isabel Ng-Lai and Miranda Dela Cruz went on a high school trip to India last year, they returned home eager to stay connected to the people they had met.

The teenagers worked at schools in Kolkata and Darjeeling, which is near Nepal, teaching English and art. “It was definitely an eye-opener,” Ms. Ng-Lai, 18, recalled from her home in Toronto where she is a Grade 12 student at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School.

Upon their return to Canada, she and Ms. Dela Cruz thought about raising money for a playground at the school in Darjeeling, which was founded by a Catholic order called the Sisters of Loretto. But when they contacted the school, the staff had a better idea: Why not raise money for tuition to help the children continue their education? Tuition at the school costs about $20 a month and includes a uniform and hot meal. But many families cannot afford that amount.

Ms. Ng-Lai and Ms. Dela Cruz, who is also 18 and attends York University, took up the challenge and created 1Focus. They have tallied about $5,000 so far through a series of fundraising activities and hope to have another $5,000 by summer.

But raising money is only part of their approach. They also speak at schools around Toronto and so far three school have formed 1Focus chapters.

They plan to keep raising money for other causes, one at a time. The idea behind 1Focus, Ms. Ng-Lai explained, is to pick one charity to support each year and devote all fundraising to that organization. Next year, the two are considering raising money for something in the Canadian arts community. Beyond that, they hope that once 1Focus is larger, donors and other participants will select future causes.

“It’s just one of my passions,” Ms. Ng-Lai said about why she helped start 1Focus. “It’s kind of my duty to help out.”

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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