Fundraiser keeps mental health talk going

Tom Edgerton raises over $250 through online campaign in support of Jack.org on Bell Let’s Talk Day

Tom Edgerton raised more than $250 in support of Jack.org.
Tom Edgerton raised more than $250 in support of Jack.org.
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Grassroots fundraising for mental health sprouted at Queen’s this week, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by a student.

The fifth annual Bell’s Let’s Talk Day raised $6,107,538.60 for mental health programs in Canada, contributing to a total of $73,623,413.80 raised since 2010.

4,775,708 tweets — an increase of 58.3 per cent from last year — were sent using #BellLetsTalk on Wednesday. Five cents were donated for each of 122,150,772 calls, tweets, texts and shares on the Bell network.

Tom Edgerton launched a Tilt campaign on Wednesday to raise money for Jack.org, inspired by his previous work with the organization.

Tilt, a crowdfunding platform, works by having pledges become donations only if the “tilt” amount — in this case, $250 — is reached by the deadline. Edgerton’s actual target was set at $500.

Edgerton, ArtSci ’15, said he chose Let’s Talk Day to launch the campaign because he thought there’d be “lots of traffic”, and the campaign would allow people to go “a little bit further” in supporting mental health.

His campaign reached the tilt amount in about 12 hours, with donations from approximately 20 people. Edgerton will send a cheque to Jack.org for approximately $300, which includes “residual” contributions and a donation from Tilt itself, for which he serves as an ambassador at Queen’s.

Jack.org is a nationwide network of young leaders, designed to combat stigma and change the way people think about mental health. The organization stemmed from the Jack Project, named after Jack Windeler, a Queen’s student who committed suicide in 2010 after struggling with mental illness.

Edgerton launched the Tilt campaign in order to raise money for the Jack Summit, a mental health innovation summit that brings together 200 students from across the country, which he’s hosted twice.

He said the Tilt campaign allowed him to return to a “grassroots” level. Efforts like his are more than fundraising, he added.

“The shining thing for me isn’t the cash that came out of it — it’s definitely the awareness that has been promoted by yesterday, all 24 hours of it, and I hope a tiny, tiny part of that is down to the campaign,” he said.

“If that helped in raising even a little more awareness and one more person has a conversation about mental health, then I’ll be happy.”

Queen’s Rector Mike Young said after he received an email about Edgerton’s campaign, he sent messages to about 50 people and shared the campaign on the Rector’s Facebook page.

While many people are excited about Let’s Talk Day, Young, ConEd ’17, said some have expressed skepticism about where the money raised actually goes.

According to its website, Bell Let’s Talk provides grants to various programs across Canada. Kingston’s Youth Diversion Program was among those that received grants in 2014.

Edgerton’s campaign for Jack.org, Young said, created a more direct link to Queen’s.

“This is less of a you giving money blindly to a corporation or just participating in that act more passively,” he said.

“It was more actively engaging in something that takes it to the next level and really puts it toward something more Queen’s-specific and more local.”

By directing conversation to a particular location and allowing people to donate money and find out about Jack.org, Young said, Edgerton’s campaign was “really, really smartly done”.

“I think what Tom has done is really a cool model for a student getting involved in something they’re passionate about and taking it to the next level,” he said.

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