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Chosen Charity: annual Charity Bash hosts Elyssa’s Mission

With+previous+Charity+Bash+charities+being+more+well+know%2C+such+as+the+Make-A-Wish+Foundation%2C+Elyssa%27s+Mission+works+to+prevent+teen+suicide+throughout+schools+solely+in+Illinois.++Students+will+have+the+opportunity+to+learn+about+this+organization+the+community+of+Lake+Zurich+will+be+supporting+throughout+the+high+school%27s+school-wide+fundraiser+at+tomorrow%27s+Charity+Bash+assembly.+
With previous Charity Bash charities being more well know, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Elyssa's Mission works to prevent teen suicide throughout schools solely in Illinois.  Students will have the opportunity to learn about this organization the community of Lake Zurich will be supporting throughout the high school's school-wide fundraiser at tomorrow's Charity Bash assembly.

With previous Charity Bash charities being more well know, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Elyssa's Mission works to prevent teen suicide throughout schools solely in Illinois. Students will have the opportunity to learn about this organization the community of Lake Zurich will be supporting throughout the high school's school-wide fundraiser at tomorrow's Charity Bash assembly.

Photo used with permission of Bri Saab

Photo used with permission of Bri Saab

With previous Charity Bash charities being more well know, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Elyssa's Mission works to prevent teen suicide throughout schools solely in Illinois. Students will have the opportunity to learn about this organization the community of Lake Zurich will be supporting throughout the high school's school-wide fundraiser at tomorrow's Charity Bash assembly.

Megan Monoson, Magazine Editor-in-Chief

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Every year, Charity Bash is kicked off with an annual assembly to explain what the charity is and its connection the the Lake Zurich community. This year, however, members of Student Council have decided to also take a different approach.

 

What is Charity Bash? 

Almost a half a million dollars has been raised in the past 14 years from LZHS’s Charity Bash held, and this annual event will kick off tomorrow, Thursday, November 30.

“We want to get people excited about it. There’s a lot of cool opportunities that, I think, can come out of this charity. It’s so much squeezed into a month, but, honestly, it’s so awesome,” Will Snyder, senior Student Council president, said. “There’s no way not to get involved in something. It’s cool. A lot of schools don’t do it, and I think this is kind of the big, unique events that Lake Zurich does.”   

LZ has been hosting Charity Bash for over the past decade, and this year all funds will go to Elyssa’s Mission, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and preventing suicide. 25 million Americans suffer from depression each year, and over 50 percent who ultimately commit suicide suffer from major depression, according to theovernight.org. Charity Bash’s goal is to help fight those statistics.

“One of the big focuses for the assembly is to explain how we’re going to raise money and then explain how that money is going to be used by the charity, [however], beyond just the charity, one thing that we are trying to focus on is that you may not realize who is struggling with depression or suicide around you,” Nathan Holbrook, Charity Bash assembly head chair, said. “The first two thirds of the assembly is going to be about the charity, how it was founded, and the things the charity does, but the last portion of the assembly is going to be more about [how] there are people in our school that struggle with this that you don’t realize do.”    

 

Why Elyssa’s Mission? 

Through mostly volunteers and solely being funded through donations, Elyssa’s Mission provides resources as they strive to prevent teenage suicide, “something that our school needs to talk about, and something that there isn’t enough awareness that there could be [on],” Snyder, who nominated the organization, said.

“I feel like this is something that a lot of high school students can relate to even if someone’s not feeling depressed or has really had any negative thoughts towards suicide,” Snyder said. “You don’t necessarily have to [connect in] that way, but I’m sure [people can] name [someone they know] that [has] dealt with something along the lines of depression or anxiety, […] so I figured nominating this charity would be a really cool opportunity to talk about something that isn’t necessarily talked about all the time.”

Because the topic is “not as widely discussed,” according to Holbrook, he voted for Elyssa’s Mission because he said he felt that having this year’s charity have a connection to suicide would be a good way to bring up the topic as a whole.

“I feel like suicide and depression [are some things] that [are] brought up in health class and we talk about [them] in FAME too, but it’s kind of one of those social things that we push to the side,” Holbrook said. “We know it exists, but we just don’t want to talk about it, so, I think, having this as our Charity Bash is a really good opportunity to have that be more of an open discussion with people about how suicide isn’t a joke and there are ways to get help if you are struggling with it.”

After being founded in 2006, the Mission has helped start these discussions Holbrook refers to and has educated over 300,000 students in over 130 middle and high schools in Illinois, including the high school and Middle School North.

“Elyssa’s Mission is really cool because they are one of very few organizations that actually provides resources to schools to talk about and to start the conversation,” Snyder said. “They’re actually doing something with District 95 right now where they’re training a lot of the faculty and staff in the district on how to identify those things. The ultimate goal, now the staff knows how to do that, [is that] they’re going to help our student body know what those signs are.”

Though many students attempt to privately counsel their friends who suffer from suicide, depression, and/or anxiety or who consider suicide, Snyder says these victims’ thoughts must be shared with others to prevent harm; however, increasing the awareness is the first step in solving this misconception, and Elyssa’s Mission has done just this.    

“If our students can be informed about how to deal with certain situations, then that would really help spread the word and help spread awareness to something that is really relatable,” Snyder said. “It honestly serves a couple different purposes, but I think it’s just unique in that way because they already do have a strong connection to District 95 and the high school, so [now we’ll] just extend that to the student body.”

 

How is the money utilized?

As Elyssa’s Mission took on the challenge of solely running on donations, fundraisers, and sponsors become important parts of what allows the organization to continue thriving. Over the years, the amount of funds needed by these fundraisers and sponsors has increased as the mission has grown: new schools are added to the missions list almost daily, according to Holbrook.

“Elyssa’s Mission gets contacted by new schools, almost daily, that want them to come visit. They have to pay for all of their supplies that they give to schools because they charge schools nothing when they come do their presentations. It’s fairly costly to them [though],” Holbrook said. “It adds up because they get so many phone calls from different schools, and then they only have three paid staff for their charity.”

The money Charity Bash raises goes toward helping Elyssa’s Mission spread awareness to prevent suicide, and the funds are needed because of some victims of depression and suicidal thoughts will not reach out for help , Holbrook said.

Last year alone Elyssa’s Mission was able to hospitalize about 60 students from one assessment and determine that about 63 percent of the students identified “had not been receiving the help beforehand that they needed to,” according to Holbrook. But, the program doesn’t stop after the initial presentation that includes this assessment.

“A year later, they’ll go back and do another presentation. They’ll do trainings for teachers and social workers, so then after two years the school can take over the program by themselves to do the same thing that Elyssa’s Mission did the first two years,” Holbrook said.

These trainings done for each school become costly, however, when the organization must pay for the supplies themselves, which is why Holbrook and Snyder say they are good to host Elyssa’s Mission for this year’s Charity Bash.

With this struggle of costs, Snyder is excited to bring Elyssa’s Mission here and believes that this year’s Charity Bash will be impactful, not only for the charity, but also for the students.

“We’re going to try to hit half a million [dollars] overall this year because [since Charity Bash started] we have raised [around] 460,00 or 470,000 dollars,” Snyder said. “Hitting half a million would be a huge milestone.

To hit or go beyond this goal would be amazing for the organization, according to Snyder, because any donations matters to them.   

“They’re a small organization,” Snyder said, “with a really big impact.”

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Chosen Charity: annual Charity Bash hosts Elyssa’s Mission