December 8, 2022


IMG_0066One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, especially when it comes to old chairs. Students in Conestoga’s interior decorating program know this well. They refurbished old chairs and auctioned them off at their fourth annual “Chairity” Gala on March 10, raising $5,000 in the process. The event was held at the Waterloo Region Museum and was sold out.

The gala showcased chairs “up-cycled” by students, faculty and local designers.

Each year proceeds go to a charity of the students choice; this year it was Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region.

Leslee Squirrell, the interior decorating program co-ordinator, said that organization is getting an added bonus, because it has been selected to be the recipient for the next three years as well.

“The funds are going to go toward the purchase of home décor products for the families who are getting the house,” Squirrell said. “So rather than our funds buying shingles and lumber, doors and trim, as a program we kind of thought having the funds go towards making the house a home would really resonate with our program.”

Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region believes that affordable, safe housing is a basic human right. They work toward a world where every person has access to adequate housing. Celebrating their 25th anniversary this month, the organization could not do what it does without the partnerships within the community.

At Conestoga, the Chairity Gala is integrated into the program; students get marked on their work then auction off their chairs at the end.

Cassondra Phagu, a second-year interior decorating student and chair decorator, said that it’s the opportunity to construct the chairs and work with her peers as a team that is the biggest take away from the project.

Even though the chairs are a marked assignment, the students don’t look at it from a grades point of view. It is about knowing their hard work is going toward something greater for someone else.

“I think it’s the sense of doing something good for the community,” said Nicole Ruthardt, a second-year interior decorating student and chair decorator. “It’s nice knowing where the money is going and who it’s going back to.”

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