4-H charity steer raises almost $150k after pair of matching donations

Submitted photo. The 2021 charity steer will be auctioned at 2 p.m. on June 14.

Olivia Woytiuk couldn’t believe her eyes as the numbers came in.

It had been five years since Wild Rose 4-H out of the Shellbrook area had hosted the charity steer, and they weren’t quite sure what to expect.

Their previous charity steer had raised about $27,000.

“Because it was a COVID year, we didn’t know if we would get way less because businesses were struggling, or way more,” Woytiuk said.

The club sold tickets ahead of the auction, meaning they had a rough estimate of what would happen but weren’t prepared for how much would come in.

The final total was $49,930. Donations had come in from across Saskatchewan and Alberta to help the club reach the landmark amount.

“It was crazy getting all the support from communities across Western Canada,” Woytiuk said. “I was speechless.”

The cause is one that’s important to her heart. Woytiuk’s dad has cancer. Another parent in their 4-H group is also fighting cancer right now.

“I wanted to do something around cancer to help other families like mine, “ Woytiuk said.

The club likes to keep the donations local, so they settled on the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan, which is currently raising funds to install a 4D CT simulator for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy in Saskatoon. The simulator is used to determine the exact location, shape and size of the tumour to be treated.

While one exists in Regina, the hope is to bring one to Saskatoon as well.

Wild Rose 4-H got a boost to its efforts to raise money for the CT scanner. Malcolm Jenkins agreed to match the total raised from the charity steer, bringing the initial contribution to $99,860.

Jenkins, whose wife Melba passed away due to cancer, spoke at the auction about why he was matching the donation.

“It was really touching,” Woytiuk said.

A few days later, the club got an unexpected surprise. JGL group of companies, which had donated the charity steer, also agreed to match the dollar amount raised by the 4-H club bringing the total donation to just shy of $150,000.

Alan Jackson, cattle buyer for JGL in Prince Albert, attended the event and called his head office in Moose Jaw to tell them how well it had gone.

“It was a huge success,” he said.

“(Head office) was quite inspired that this 4-H club was able to raise so much money, and the fact that Malcolm Jenkins stepped up and matched the donation. They thought it was the right thing to do.”

Jackson said he had a talk with the company’s CEO.

“He was all in and hoped it would motivate more businesses to do the same.”

In just a week, he said, the cancer foundation is $150,000 closer to their goal.

‘It’s pretty impressive,” he said.

Jackson, who has been in the Prince Albert area for about 15 years, is always impressed by the local 4-H clubs.

“These kids really enjoy looking after those animals,” he said. “It was a little more special this year because last year they couldn’t have their show and sale. This year everyone was excited. It was a really good atmosphere. I know most of these kids, known most of their names and know their parents well. It’s really neat to see these kids doing what they love to do.”

For Woytiuk, having so many people support their project has been truly special.

“4-H really loves to give back to the community,” she said. ‘We appreciate all the businesses and people who support (4-H) as a whole and the ag groups and the charity steer. It was really touching for people to come forward and say ‘I support your cause so much.’” It’s really breathtaking.”