Joyce Helweg (left) speaks to the Sowchea Elementary students at an assebly while Pat Short stands holding the large cheque for the Fort St. James Community Foundation.

Honesty is the best policy – and it pays

Honesty is rewarded at Sowchea Elementary School, but not with money, with recognition.

Honesty is rewarded at Sowchea Elementary School, but not with money, with recognition.

Students at the school are told the best thing to do when you find money which doesn’t belong to you is to try and find who it belongs to. But often small amounts of money are not claimed or identified as belonging to anyone in particular, but the money still doesn’t belong to the person who found it.

So at Sowchea, students then are asked to bring the money to the office, where they turn it in.

The money is set aside, with the student’s name.

Eventually, the money collected adds up and last year, the collected money was donated towards the Fort St. James Community Foundation.

“It was really cool,” said Joyce Helweg of the foundation. “They’re just so sweet.”

At an assembly towards the end of last year, the students presented Helweg and Pat Short with a cheque for a total of $25.59 and each student who had turned in money was recognized at the assembly.

A few more coins had been turned in since the cheque was made out, and in the end, the foundation was given $29.19 from the students.

“These kids were so enthused,” said Helweg.

At the assembly, Helweg explained to the students how the foundation will be investing the funds in order to obtain interest which can then go back towards worthy causes in the community via grants.

The Fort St. James Community Foundation now has over $130,000 invested and will be using the interest to allocate their first grant funds for local projects or organizations, but has to determine the grant allocation procedures for the foundation yet.

The first money given back to the community will be two $450 grants, and will hopefully be given out this spring.

Helweg said she hopes to continue building on the deduction at source fundraising, which allows the employees of participating companies the option to have automatic deductions taken off of their paycheques, which Helweg said provides the best return for donors because the donation is taken off before the income tax is calculated.

If 770 people were to donate $5 off of each pay check, the foundation would raise $1 million in 10 years.

So far, Conifex and Ubleis Logging are participating companies, with Conifex employees donating a total of $4,965 in 2013 and Ubleis employees donating a total of $560.