HUNTSVILLE – Jars of a savoury spread are popping up all over town.
YOUNG HUMANITARIAN: .
Natalie Arnott is heading to Central America as part of Team Nicaragua, a group of 29 Huntsville High School students focused on helping internationally and gaining experience. Arnott is selling red pepper jelly as a fundraiser to off-set the cost of the trip.
People cannot seem to get enough of Port Sydney resident Natalie Arnott’s red pepper jelly. And the Grade 9 Huntsville High School student could not be happier because each jar gets her closer to realizing one of her humanitarian dreams.
“I’m going to Nicaragua to help build a school and we’re going to help their community,” she said with excitement in her voice. “It’s kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity. I might be able to go to a different country later on in high school, but I’ll never be able to go to Nicaragua, help build a school and know that these kids will get to go to school.”
She explained the country does not have many buildings typical of what North Americans would consider schools. Many of the existing schools there are covered with tin roofs and students sit on the floor, she said.
Arnott, who has been volunteering and promoting her charitable causes for years, is going to the Central American country as part of the high school’s annual Me to We trip. She said the trip will cost about $3,200 per student and each is now fundraising individually and as a group.
Arnott has focused on homemade preserves for her fundraiser. The popular red pepper jelly is something she and her mom have made in the past, though never to raise funds for a trip. So far, the mother-daughter duo have produced 180 jars.
“We also have pickles and stuff, but the red pepper jelly seems to be going first,” she said with a chuckle.
Unlike some students who will be participating in their first humanitarian initiative as well as their first international excursion, Arnott has a list of selfless acts almost as long as her young arm.
Her most notable initiative has been the collection of baseball gloves and running shoes for children in the Dominican Republic. She came up with the idea for collecting sporting goods while visiting family friends in that country.
“I saw all the kids running around in the streets playing baseball, but they didn’t really have anything. I thought about what I could do and I started the baseball glove collection,” she said. “It’s just continued on from there.”
She has also completed Me to We’s week-long Ontario Take Action Camp, which builds volunteer skills and confidence while educating young people about international issues. And she has volunteered with the Lindsay, Ont., Girls and Boys Club, which aims to enhance children’s confidence while building life skills.
Going to Nicaragua, she said, will add to her experience, but the trip is of personal importance, too.
“My mother has been to Nicaragua, so I thought it would be kind of cool to see what she experienced when she was there,” said Arnott.
It seems her drive comes not only from her experience, but from family as well.