Retired USask College of Kinesiology professor and Kiwanis Club volunteer Jim McClements (right) stands beside Kiwanis Club president Keith McLean (left) in front of the Kiwanis Band Shell, as they look forward to continuing their service to the community through their fundraiser for the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust. (Photo: Inalie Portades)

Student support: A helping hand in time of need

For more than 100 years, the Kiwanis Club of Saskatoon has been a vital service group in the community, providing music scholarships and character awards to high school students and youth leadership training such as the Builder’s Club program—which was temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this year has been quite different, the Kiwanis Club continues to help the community by supporting university students who were affected by the pandemic. The club has raised $4,300 towards the University of Saskatchewan’s Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust and is near to reaching their fundraising goal of $5,000.

“I knew we needed to do something here at home,” said Jim McClements, a retired USask College of Kinesiology professor and an active volunteer for the Kiwanis Club. As the winter term concluded, McClements had noticed the impact of the pandemic on students’ lives and recommended the club initiate the fundraising drive.

“Most students had gone home or had to find alternative housing to finish their classes,” McClements said. “Some students also lost their internships and faced unemployment, especially those who work in the service industry and on campus. Those people suddenly lost their regular streams of income.”

Donating funds to the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust had become the goal of the Kiwanis Club to stay proactive and support students in need because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency fund set up by Dr. Kay Nasser (PhD) and Dora Nasser provides financial assistance to students experiencing a crisis.

Fundraising for these students became the club’s priority as two of their volunteers were USask international students who had been affected by the pandemic.

“When I spoke with one of our international student members, they had already applied and received the grant from the crisis fund. When the university shut down, they lost their research assistant jobs. They had first-hand knowledge of it being an important fund for student support,” said Keith McLean, president of the Kiwanis Club.

In March, the university made the announcement that the delivery of classes would move online. One of the Kiwanis Club’s international students remained in Saskatoon and continued to live in USask’s residence, despite the challenges of being far from home during the pandemic.

“I would love to go home but because I’m a visa student, it’s difficult for me to begin my preparatory course overseas this summer that is required for my graduate degree. So, I never had any plans to go home because I still had work and classes to finish,” the student said.

While living on campus with little source of income, the student was able to make ends meet and afford necessities such as groceries—thanks to the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust.

“Receiving the emergency fund definitely took some of the pressure off while living independently during this pandemic,” the student said. “The staff were also very helpful. They definitely ensured that I had the right details on my application and received assistance.”

The student was thankful for the generous support from the USask community and donors to the fund, such as the Kiwanis Club.

“Many students right now have only limited options for support; whatever you give, it will be very much appreciated and put for good use.”

McLean said he is pleased the Kiwanis Club can assist USask students.

“They’re a very important part of our community and our culture,” he said. “We hope that the pandemic won’t affect them all too drastically and everybody will get on with their lives and continue with their education.” 

If you would like to make a gift to the Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust and support students in crisis, visit: donate.usask.ca/crisis

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