RANDOM ISLAND, N.L. – It’s a perfect example of how a small group can make big things happen.
The week of the May 24 holiday weekend, Random Island Academy staff learned that administrative assistant Stephanie Freeman had been diagnosed with grade 2 brain cancer.
The wife and mother of three would have to undergo six weeks of radiation and 12 months of chemotherapy.
But the school community decided Freeman would not have to face this battle alone.
“Our goal as a staff was to join the fight with her and help her as much as we could, so we decided to do a cold plate fundraiser,” said Stephanie Smith, one of the staff who spearheaded the event.
Order forms were sent home with students that next week, and were due Friday, May 25, in order to give volunteers time to prepare for the June 3 fundraiser.
In just a few short days, the school received 1,532 orders, with orders coming in from as far as Bonavista, Arnold’s Cove and everywhere in between.
“We had no kind of real expectation on where it was going to go. We did not imagine it was going to reach the capacity it did; it’s totally exceeded our expectations,” said Smith, who noted that in total, 1,626 cold plates were sold.
Smith says school staff were prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to make sure the orders were filled.
And how does a school with a staff of about 15 and 107 students go about preparing over 1,600 cold plates?
“Organization was key… everyone knew their role,” said Smith, who says the school received much support from the community and local businesses. “It was a complete unified effort from the staff, school community, the whole Random Island community; it was an amazing response.”
Volunteers meet Saturday evening, June 2, to prepare for the big day, and Sunday morning, school staff, students, community members, and friends and family showed up to help in whatever way they could.
Preparations began at 8 a.m., and by 8:15 a.m. the first batch of cold plates were ready for delivery.
By 10:30 a.m. (and 552 litres of salad and 62 turkeys later) the cold plates were finished and out for delivery.
In total, $14,613.45 was raised to help Freeman with her expenses.
“It’s so heartwarming to realize how much this small community put into for this person,” Smith told The Packet. “She’s a beautiful person, she has a heart of gold, and she deserves every bit of this.”
Freeman told The Packet words can’t express her gratitude for the amount of support shown to her and her family.
“They didn’t need to do this for me, but like I said, they did it because they wanted to, and I will never be able to repay them,” she said. “A simple thank you doesn’t seem like enough.
“This community has pulled together to prove that in a time of need, you look out for one of your own.”
Staff at Random Island Academy extend thanks to volunteers who donated time, money, and materials, as well as area businesses for numerous donations.
“The response from the community was so overwhelming and we are very appreciative,” Smith said. “We cannot say thank you enough for the support that we received. We are completely overwhelmed.”