Merritt Secondary School (MSS) senior Diya Chhabra is organizing a fundraiser to assemble educational packages for students. The package will help students here in Merritt who have been struggling with their classes due to factors such as the pandemic and the recent floods. 

“I just want to give back to the community and help students out because COVID has been very tricky and with the floods happening, a lot of students have fallen behind with school,” said Chhabra.

“The idea of creating learning packages is just to help out students to catch up with the new school year coming up and that way it’s accessible and fun for them to have at home.” 

The education packages will be sent to students at MSS, Diamond Vale Elementary School, and Merritt Central Elementary School.

“Education is held high in my heart,” the grade 12 student explained. “I’ve also had a passion for helping others and this was the perfect time for me to do a project and help students.” 

Learning packages will include curriculum books for grades 1-7. Kindergarten students will have smaller books, school supplies like pencils, paper, rulers and other necessary materials. Students from Grade 8-12 will get school fee assistance with the remaining funds raised. 

According to Chhabra, each package would be worth $50.

“I will be going around to MSS, Diamond Vale, and Central asking the principals which students are in most need so I can make that certain amount of packages and distribute them out.”

MSS teacher Dave Andersen is assisting Chhabra for her project by helping her coordinate with the schools she intend to send packages to. 

“Students in Grade 12 are required to complete a Capstone project as part of graduation. Diya knew from the start that she wanted her Capstone project to give back to the community in some way. With so much missed learning over the previous few years, Diya recognized a need she could help meet with the summer learning packages she is putting together.”

Chhabra is very excited to do this project and says she has a great source of motivation.

“I’m definitely inspired by my family,” said Chhabra. “My family and I have gone through a lot in the past few years, we suffered a kitchen fire in 2019, we were out of our house for about 10 months.”

Chhabra, who lives along Grieg Street, says her family was also affected by the November 2021 floods. The Chhabra family was out of their home for approximately four months and was able to return mid-February. 

“I’ve been getting my project together now that our family’s settled down and now I can help other families settle down.” 

Chhabra is no stranger to mobilizing the community for a good cause. 

The Merritonian, who is a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) youth ambassador, has hosted a plethora of events over the years including bottle drives, dinners, and hotdog lunches. 

“I am a type 1 diabetic myself,” said Chhabra. “For me, it’s very important that I reach out to other community members and others around the world who are in need of more support.” 

In May of 2019, Chhabra also hosted a diabetes fundraiser at MSS where she was able to raise $2000. 

The fundraiser was a luncheon and an awareness walk. Chhabra also addressed the school about her experience being a type 1 diabetic and talked about ways for others to help individuals like her. 

The educational packages are expected to be sent in preparation for the following school year. Chhabra has already promoted her fundraiser and looks to raise as much money as she can by July 1 so she can send the packages out in the summer. 

“Lots of people have been really kind and sending me messages, telling me what a good job I am doing,” Chhabra explained. “They also tell me that ‘even though things can be tough there’s always a positive outcome from helping others,’ this is something I really hold high in my heart.”

People who would like to contribute to Chhabra’s project can donate and share to others this Go Fund Me link: