Cuppa Change initiative allows students to give back in small, meaningful ways

As part of this year’s Roll Up the Rim to Win, University of Ottawa students have launched a charitable project that aims to help the less fortunate benefit from this classic Tim Hortons campaign.

The Cuppa Change initiative was officially launched on Feb. 1 by Constanza Maass, a fourth-year U of O biology student. Along with around 15 other members of the university, Maass conceived of a program where winning rims from Tim Hortons cups are donated to local homeless shelters.

“Our premise is to give agency to youth to make a difference in their community, we want to empower them to create positive changes,” Maass told the Fulcrum.

In order to get these prizes to the homeless winning rims can be deposited at red donation boxes that are set up at garbage and recycling receptacles across campus. Maass and her team have partnered with the Shepherds of Good Hope to make sure these rims are put in the right hands.

As of March 4, the initiative has raised over 100 winning rims, and Maass and her team are hoping to reach their goal of 200 rims before donating them to the Shepherds of Good Hope.

“The point of this Roll up for Change is to present an incentive for homeless individuals to go into Shepherds of Good Hope and continue to build relationships there,” said Maass. “With that being said, these individuals will have to physically go into the organization, obtain a rim from them, and then go to a Tim Hortons to redeem their coffee, doughnut, or potato wedges.”

According to Leah Myer, communications director for the Shepherds of Good Hope, the Cuppa Change initiative is “a great way to take advantage of the hype” surrounding Roll Up the Rim season, and an important way to “leverage students” to take part in charitable work.

“The main objective of this project goes beyond a free cup of coffee,” Maass said. “It provides an incentive for marginalized individuals to enter a safe environment within the Shepherds of Good Hope community, bringing them one step closer to receiving help from professionals who are trained to give it.”

Maass originally came up with the idea behind Cuppa Change after giving a winning rim to a homeless individual on the street.

“After this, I approached two friends, Bethany Downer and Catherine Marot. I knew they would be the two people who would be able to work with me to make this idea into a reality,” said Maass.

The next step, after recruiting new members, was to reach out to the federal government and start making the team’s ideas a reality by brainstorming names, logos, and possible mission statements.

Since then, the team has worked on increasing coverage for the initiative through blogs, outreach to student associations on campus, and other local organizations.

“We would not have gotten the project running with as much success had it not been for this incredible, hard-working team,” wrote Maass.

The response to Cuppa Change has been “phenomenal” so far according to the team, as they have received positive feedback from students and families in Gatineau, Thornhill, and Markham, as well as organizations such as Agriculture Canada.

“We have even managed to inspire students at McMaster University to start a Roll up for Change initiative on their campus.”

Maass and her team are currently expanding to other projects. This includes a partnership with Palooza, the world’s biggest beer pong tournament, to ensure that their upcoming event in April is eco-friendly.

This eco-friendly focus stems from Cuppa Change’s core values—education, environmental sustainability, and enhancing youth capabilities.

“We want to use our knowledge and expertise to re-use resources that are already in place and improve the effectiveness of their impact. The different projects that we will be working on will be centered around those values,” said Maass.

Overall, Maass believes that the Cuppa Change campaign is uniquely tailored for students because, while many undergraduates are often unable to donate through financial means, this project allows them to give back in small, meaningful ways.

“What easier way to have a positive impact on people in the community than to donate these little prizes? Nothing lost, something gained.”

For students looking to get involved with Cuppa Change, please email cuppachangecanada@gmail.com, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.