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Comox student wins $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North

Local Habitat chapter received a total of $11,060 through the Meaning of Home writing contest
Alice Hopkins, a Grade 5 student from École Robb Road Elementary in Comox, was a runner up in a national student writing contest, earning $10,000 for Habitat For Humanity Vancouver Island North. Photo by Karen McKinnon

A Comox student has won $10,000 for Habitat For Humanity Vancouver Island North (Habitat VIN).

Alice Hopkins, a student at École Robb Road in Comox, was a runner up in the Grade 5 category of the national writing contest.

The Meaning of Home is a national writing contest in support of Habitat for Humanity Canada that asks students in Grade 4, 5 and 6 to share what home means to them. Genworth Canada is the corporate sponsor of the contest.

More than 10,200 students entered this year’s Meaning of Home contest, which sets a new record.

Hopkins is one of three Grade 5 runners up in the contest, helping win a $10,000 grant that will go towards Habitat VIN’s affordable housing projects.

Everyone who entered the contest locally helped earn funds for Habitat VIN. Every entry received from the Habitat VIN area of operations was worth $10 for the local chapter. With 106 students from the area entering the contest, Habitat VIN received an additional $1,060 donation.

ALSO: Habitat VIN wins national award for innovative approach to building

Habitat VIN executive director Pat McKenna said the $11,060 cash infusion came at an ideal time.

“It will go straight to our current projects (10-unit Courtenay development and 11-unit Campbell River development) because we are in desperate need of funds right now,” he said.

McKenna said he was not overly surprised with the 100+ entries coming from the Comox Valley/Campbell River area.

“We have had fairly consistent participation, and it’s because of the connection we have with the schoolteachers. Tom Beshr (Habitat VIN resource development) has been the collaborator on this project for us. He provides the teachers with the opportunity to do a lesson plan on it, but they are the ones that really drive the program for us, because they are the ones who are connecting the kids to the story. And these poems are incredible.”

The impact of the contest is not lost on the children themselves, as was evident with a response from Hopkins, in a Habitat press release.

“The Meaning of Home contest gives something for people to work together on. Even if they don’t win, they are making a difference together,” she said. “I hear about a lot of young people making a big difference. I didn’t know I could make such a difference. Now I know anyone can make a difference if you try.”

With a guaranteed $10 donation from Genworth Canada to Habitat for each entry received, McKenna said the program has the potential for enormous growth.

“I don’t know what September will look like, but if people are still doing virtual learning, I could easily step into any classroom in the Comox Valley, Campbell River, and anywhere in between and do a half-hour talk on Habitat, and promote [this initiative],” he said. “Imagine if 500 students from our area were to participate… that would bring in $5,000 annually to our charity. We would love for everybody to pick it up.”

In addition to the donation to Habitat, Hopkins will receive a tablet as her prize, which she plans to use to learn about coding.

McKenna divulged that Hopkins also did a little giving back of her own.

“She won a pizza party as part of the prize, and she can’t have it - probably because of COVID-19 - so she wants to donate her pizzas party to the volunteers on the builds,” said McKenna.

The following is Alice’s winning entry:


By Alice Hopkins

As I wake, the sky lightens and my heart soars.

I’m at home here, among the birds

I don’t need a house, I don’t need a ceiling or walls

Because, I know that I wouldn’t feel at home.

I need the birds to wake me up each morning,

I need the cool breeze on my face,

I wouldn’t be at home anywhere else.

-Home among the birds

I walk down the hall,

Mom is making breakfast.

My family is sitting around the table,

They waited for me.

Even though it’s a small gesture,

I appreciate it.

I eat and get ready for school.

My friends are waiting for me at the bus stop.

Even though I made them late,

They still waited.

It makes me happy to know that they wait.

It makes me feel safe.

-Simple home

I’ve been told many times that Home is where the heart is.

But what if my heart isn’t in one place?

What if my heart is with my parents?

What if it belongs with my community?

Maybe my home is with my friends and family?

Maybe my home is the world?

What if my home isn’t one place, but a thousand?

-A thousand homes

A mother’s love,

A father’s encouragement,

A sister’s arguments,

A family’s warmth.

These are simple things,

I often take for granted.

But I pity those without these gifts,

Because I cannot imagine my life without them.

I know that in this world many live without them.

Without a home or love.

I wish that I knew more

So, I could help them.

But I will do the best I can,

To help them every day.

I will do the best I can,

To help them on their way.

-My home, my community

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