Surrey elementary school kids busk for charity bucks

SULLIVAN HEIGHTS — Cambridge Elementary students have big hearts. At least that’s what school principal Antonio Vendramin thinks, and he’s not alone.

What really caught his attention in his first year at the school, however, were two Grade 7 boys — Kyle and Marcus Wilson — who set up their saxophones in the courtyard by the crosswalk after school to play for their peers. What they did next shocked him.

“Kids will get their instruments the first time and you’ll hear them out in the school yard and they’ll be playing,” Vendramin explained.

“That’s pretty typical. But these boys decided to do it right out front and I went over to them and said jokingly, ‘Hey, if you’re at the corner here, why not open your cases and maybe people will throw in money?’ I had some change in my pocket and I threw it in, and I talked to some teachers and I encouraged them to do the same thing. So, it started innocently enough.”

The boys – who aren’t related but share a surname – decided to count the change, but instead of splitting the cash, they decided to hand over the money to the Surrey Food Bank.

“Then they kind of took that seriously… so I thought that showed initiative on their part,” Vendramin said. Kyle and Marcus would bring the money to the school’s office for the secretary to keep, and the school then donated the cash to the local charity.

The boys raised north of $120 for the food bank up until a fellow classmate’s mom had passed away.

“It was about three or four weeks ago. She had been battling breast cancer,” Vendramin said during an early-December interview.

“This is a pretty tight-knit community, so when we talk about Grade 7, these are kids who have been together for a long time. One of the boys in particular has taken it really to heart so then they asked me, ‘Could we, instead of raising money for the food bank, can we raise money for cancer research?’ And I said ‘Of course.’”

According to the school’s new principal, the saxophone cases began getting hit with dimes and quarters, and then it became loonies and toonies, and then fives and twenties.

“It kind of started to take on a life of its own,” he said.

When the boys are out in front of the school busking for charity bucks, saxophone cases open with their sign reading “100 per cent of proceeds going towards breast cancer research,” and hordes of students and parents gathered around, it’s clear that, indeed, what started as two friends practicing their instruments has taken on new life.

As the kids play anything from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” to the ‘80s hit “Careless Whisper” in the front courtyard, their peers yell over the saxophone wails, “Good for you!” and “You’re doing it for a good cause!”

Not only are Kyle and Marcus helping out others with their music, it seems to be therapeutic in a time of hardship for them, too.

“It just kind of feels natural. I think music helps us relax sometimes,” Kyle said, looking at Marcus.

Asked if the pair consider themselves a band, both say they’re happy just to play music.

“We consider ourselves two students of a band, and we just do this,” Marcus offered.

“We’re more like two pieces out of a loaf of bread, or two pieces of a pie,” Kyle added in.

Marcus concluded, “or two pieces of a puzzle.”

They both nodded.

Vendramin, when asked why he thinks the boys decided to take on busking for charity, said the school just has “a lot of heart.”

“It’s a community that really looks out for itself and is tight-knit and jumps onboard. They know that the mom passed away and this was their way of doing something about it and not just feeling sad,” he said, proudly.


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