Teens brave winter chill to raise funds

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A group of seven teens were chillin' in town for a good cause on the weekend.

"Most of this group are members of the (Alpha) Leo Club of St. Marys," said Tillsonburg Lion Duane Malcolm, host of the fundraising teens' overnight 'camp' in his backyard shed on the corner of Tillson Avenue and Fourth Street.

The group raised more than $700 through pledges for playground equipment in Eastmain, on the east shore of James Bay, in recognition of their 20-plus hour winter experience.

"Eastmain has no playground equipment, none" said Malcolm, noting the importance of the Leo Club's fundraising project, which they initially tried in 2012.

"Wes (Prankard) participated in the Pepsi Refresh program and won $25,000 toward a playground in Attawapiskat on the west shore of James Bay," said Malcolm. "A year later we had our first campout here and the kids were raising money toward Wes' campaign. This year they're raising money for the village of Eastmain, James Bay."

To complete the overnight winter 'camp' the group divided into two rotations of 45-90 minutes each, alternating indoor and outdoors, starting Saturday at noon and continuing through Sunday around 10:30 a.m. The thermometer on Saturday afternoon – out of the wind – read 21 degrees F (-6 C).

"The garden shed's protected from the wind, but still cold. It gives us something unique to fundraise."

The 15-18 year old teens spent their time in the shed talking and joking, without any sleep.

"A lot of jokes," said Cameron Smith of Tillsonburg.

"We just goof around," said Jessie Lush.

"And try to keep warm," added Eric Keeler.

Some tried using electronic gear, including Nintendo DS systems, but their fingers got too cold, something they all shared.

"Some stay out longer (than 60-90) minutes, if they want," said Tillsonburg's Marcus Malcolm, who is in his final year with the St. Marys Leo Club.

Sometimes, that was not a good idea.

"I can't actually feel my toes," smiled Morgan Maddock, ready for her shift inside the house.

For more information on the Lions Club and Leo Club see www.lionsclubs.org.

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