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Breaking a record is always nice—doubly so when the fruits of your labour benefit the most disadvantaged among us. On the surface, McGill's 2006 Centraide campaign was a rousing success, raising a record $304,000 for the umbrella organization serving a wide variety of Montreal-based charities.
But that record is tarnished somewhat when one realizes that the money raised came from the pockets of fewer than 10 percent of staff and faculty—far below the average rate of 15 percent participation at other organizations.
For Catherine Stace, Career Advisor, Career and Placement Services and Centraide McGill's Co-Chair (outgoing), it's a good news/bad news proposition. "The McGill campaign is one of Centraide's Top 50 contributors but we have one of the lowest participation rates," she says. "Donors are generous, there just aren't that many of them."
Don McLean, Dean of the Schulich School of Music and Centraide McGill's new Senior Academic Co-Chair isn't nearly as diplomatic as Stace. "One of the shocking things is that the bulk of that participation comes from the support staff rather than the faculty," he says. "I have to say that I am a little disappointed with my academic colleagues. I mean, we should be anteing up."
The easiest, and most painless, way to ante up is to pledge online at www.mcgill.ca/centraide. All it takes is your Minerva PIN and McGill ID, a couple of clicks of the mouse and less than five minutes of your time. Deducted at source, employees can donate as much, or as little, as they want. The key is getting people to take that first step.
"We're not concerned with amounts here," continues McLean. "If everybody at McGill suddenly turned around and wrote a one-time five dollar check, we'd be in significantly better shape and have a much bigger impact than we have ever had."
That impact could be enormous, considering the sobering statistics. More than one in four people in the Greater Montreal area live in poverty. On the Island of Montreal alone, one in three children under the age of five lives under the low-income threshold. In the last two years, the number of reported child abuse cases in Montreal has risen by 20 percent. Some 50 percent of young people who come to Montreal are approached by pimps or drug dealers within their first week in the city, often in an attempt to recruit them.
Because Centraide runs such a tight ship, even small donations go a surprisingly long way. Employees who give just $10.00 per paycheck should feel good knowing that their donation can provide some 260 nutritious meals to needy families, seniors and isolated individuals.
At the midway point in the campaign (which officially ends on Dec. 19), Centraide McGill has raised some $170,000 toward its goal of $290,000. It's a good start, for sure, but it still begs the question: How much could be raised with just a little more conviction among the McGill community? In simple terms, Centraide McGill would generate $500,000 if every employee donated a mere $2.00 per pay. Two dollars, the price of a cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask?