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Sweet Change program rewards deserving young locals

Gabriel Sawchyn and Autumn Pelletier Commanda were awarded $500 for their outstanding good deeds but the committee had a hard time choosing just two young people for the award
2021-12-29-Gabriel Sawchyn
Gabriel Sawchyn was presented with a gift of $500, a certificate and other prizes after being chosen as a Sweet Change Good Deeds hero in 2021

From kiva.org to Women in Crisis and Phoenix Rising, Gabriel Sawchyn supports a variety of charities both far and near. He also helps support his mom and grandparents, some of whom have special needs.

He also sells his gently used toys and books when he's done with them to raise funds for charity or donates them directly to local charities. 

"Every day Gabe assists me with so many things," says his mom and nominator, Kari Buie. "Whenever I call to him for help, he is always there within seconds."

"Gabriel enjoys giving donations to charities like Christmas Cheer, the Salvation Army, the Sault Star Santa Fund and World Wildlife Foundation," she adds. "He has raised money to fund micro-financing loans to underserved people through kiva.org by selling his toys and books." 

This is even more remarkable because Gabriel is only 10 years old.

As a result, he was chosen as the overall Good Deed Hero in Sault Ste. Marie for the year by the folks at the Centre For Social Justice and Good Works as part of the Sweet Change Good Deeds program. 

The full text of a media release follows from one of the founders of the Centre For Social Justice and Good Works, Frank Sarlo.

Because of the increase in COVID-19 cases and the fact that our young children are not vaccinated, the Centre for Social Justice and Good Works cancelled the Dec. 2 awards event. However, having received more than 130 submissions of good deeds from children in Sault Ste. Marie and Elliot Lake, the centre provided a gift bag to each of them.

They are all Good Deeds Heroes. Our goal of encouraging all children to carry out good deeds has had a successful start and children will be encouraged to join the Sweet Change Good Deeds Program in the new year. With our plans in the works, it will be even more exciting.

The gift bags were delivered to the children. To recognize their good deeds and as an encouragement to continue to do good deeds throughout their lives, the centre is providing each Good Deeds Hero with the following:

  • A Sweet Change Good Deeds Hero certificate and a Good Deeds Hero button for their accomplishments;
  • A copy of the Sweet Change Chocolate Bear (Good Deeds) children’s storybook;
  • A Sweet Change chocolate bear, Sweet Change chocolate bear coins and a Sweet Change chocolate bar;
  • Photos of some of our local heroes from the Soo Greyhounds, Soo Thunderbirds and the Sault College men’s and women’s hockey teams and the Sweet Change Chocolate Bear mascot;

Five independent judges were chosen to review submissions from our heroes.

They created and used specific criteria to select the recipients in Sault Ste. Marie and Elliott Lake. A weighting was used in scoring the applications. All weighting was based strictly on the information provided in the application.

All applicants are Good Deed Heroes in the sense that they are conscious of good deeds and their impact on the lives of others/environment and the community.

In Sault Ste. Marie, Gabriel Sawchyn was chosen and presented with a gift of $500.

$100 gift cards were presented to the following Good Deeds Heroes [in Sault Ste. Marie]:

  • Ryker Brocklesby 
  • Austin Madill 
  • Cash Lajoie
  • Jarrett and Brooklyn Sgourditis (shared) 
  • Tulloch Family 
  • Hannah Buconjic 
  • Mateo Muto 
  • Aurora McCaig and Michaela Lynn (shared) 
  • Matteo, Giovanni and Valentina D’Arpino (shared)
  • Kaylee Mathewson
  • Dakota, Colton and Braydon Roach (shared),
  • Rowyn Thyne and Sophia and Angie Daynes (shared)

In Elliot Lake, Autumn Pelletier Commanda was chosen and presented with a gift card of $500 and Caitlyn Vienneau received a $100 gift card.

The comments from the judges during the process were as follows:

“This has not been an easy task but very rewarding hearing the wonderful things being done by our youth.”

“Picking a winner from the final list has sure been a chore. The criteria paper was certainly a very helpful guide. But sometimes I felt my heart was the one to make the final decision in the marking process.”

“It's difficult to not award extra based on personal experiences in the same circumstances. That's why it takes a committee. Fortunately, we recognized that we may have a bias and appreciated the input from the others.”

“It makes the process so much fairer when we can point to the discussion that we all went through in picking and marking. It's not just us as individuals. There are five of us making the final decisions and awarding the final agreed-on mark. That's something I can defend anytime as it eliminates personal bias.”  

The Centre thanks the Sweet Change Good Deeds Team and the judges for volunteering their time and would also like to acknowledge the support of the following sponsors: Prouse Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac; Little Caesar’s Pizza; Missanabie Cree First Nation; and, Precious Blood Cathedral. Without their support, the Sweet Change Good Deeds Program would not be possible.