Zachary Aubert still remembers how it happened—how he first learned about sponsorship.
He was 11 years old, in Grade 5, watching the seven-inch TV in his bedroom one night. A commercial beamed onto the screen. It was a World Vision ad that explained how a small monthly donation could change the lives of the poor children he saw on the tube. He was shocked to see their suffering, but encouraged. He knew he could help.
Zach started sponsoring by paying out of his allowance, sometimes resorting to using any extra dollars his grandparents could give. This continued for several years—until Zach, now 18, decided to do more than send money, and increased his involvement in World Vision by applying to become a youth ambassador in 2013.
The one-year role came with responsibilities: create an “impact project” within your community, get the World Vision message out via social media and take up public speaking.
“I’ve always liked the challenge of putting myself out there and taking a risk,” says Zach. While the role was demanding, it also provided invaluable life lessons. Zach organized fundraiser events, cold-called local Edmonton companies for support, and even hit the street to conduct polls about what was known about World Vision at a grassroots level.
Zach’s main event was a coin drive to raise money for clean water projects in Africa. Although 17 other Edmonton high schools he approached declined to participate, his own school principal was enthusiastic.
Initially Zach had advertised through posters put up at school, but changed tactics when those didn’t grab much attention. “You kind of have to be in students’ faces,” he says. So with his grandparents’ help, he came up with the idea to place a notice on every locker in the school. They printed off 1,500 4x4 stickies with a picture on one side and details on the other: Coin Drive, Clean Water for All, homeroom number, and date. The determined teen and his grandparents—with whom he lives—then spent three hours one weekend putting up the stickies.
Zach arrived at school early on the Monday morning to gauge reactions. The students were excited, some running down the hall pointing to the stickies, others collecting them.
Zach had expected to raise about $500, but his grandparents thought a more realistic amount might be about $300. So the amount he actually raised came as a surprise—$1,227.34, with one science class having contributed $742 through “science” Jeopardy!—though not as surprising as the additional $1,000 donated by one of the students’ moms.
Throughout his year as ambassador, Zach regularly posted about World Vision on Facebook, but also organized some in-person events, too. He tapped into junior hockey, using the Edmonton Oil Kings team’s charity program to buy reduced-price tickets and sell them at face value. His sale of over 50 tickets garnered some rewards. Zach got to live his lifelong dream of dropping the puck on centre ice, but more importantly got to see World Vision’s name up on the scoreboard. “It brought back the memory of seeing that first World Vision ad. And I was thinking that maybe nobody would do anything that night, but in a couple of years a kid might remember back to this night and do something.” And if a kid does do “something,” that kid will be joining Zach by helping improve people’s lives.
A version of this article appears in the Summer 2015 issue of Childview.