Net gain for Kelset Elementary students

Siblings Anya and Levi Viinikka spearheading school fundraiser


A local brother and sister team are raising funds with their school to help purchase mosquito nets for families in Zimbabwe.

Levi, 9, and Anya Viinikka, 7, are spearheading the fundraising initiative at their school, Kelset Elementary, in North Saanich and hope to raise $4,050 through the Plan Canada-sponsored initiative by mid-February.

The nets, which cost about $10 each, are designed to keep mosquitos at bay while families sleep, therefore decreasing the chances of malaria.

“It kills millions of people every year,” explained Levi of the disease.

“A mosquito net costs $10 and helps protect a family for three whole years.”

Plan Canada’s Spread the Net student challenge is a nationwide competition between schools to raise funds for the nets. Funds raised by schools are matched 6:1.

The top fundraising elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools are visited by Rick Mercer who is the co-founder of Spread the Net, and get to appear on an episode of the Rick Mercer Report.

“Over Christmas holidays my children and I were looking through the Plan Canada brochure. It comes every year and we always go through it as a bit of lesson on what people in other countries experience and what they need like clean water, goats and mosquito nets,” explained the kids’ mom,  Jennifer Derejko-Viinikka.

“When they went to school after the holidays the kids asked the principal, Mr. Franceschini, if they could do the fundraiser and he said yes. As of last week the school has already raised $830 which is 21 per cent of our goal.”

Levi and Anya also made a YouTube video with a little help from Jennifer which is helping solicit donations from a wider audience, including extended family members and friends.

“The kids’ uncle travels a lot and he has two friends that have had malaria so they were able to ask him all about what the disease is like. Levi’s teacher, Thirell Trottier, also lived in Africa so she’s done lots of talking to her class about it as well,” said Jennifer, adding that donations in the school are really ramping up and some students who have had birthday parties in the last couple of weeks have chosen to take collections for the initiative instead of gifts.

“It’s great to see everyone coming together at the school,” she said.

Those interested in donating to the mosquito net fundraiser at Kelset Elementary can drop off cash donations at the school, visit to donate online or text the KELSET keyword NETS55 to 30333 to make a $10 donation (a $10 donation will be added to the user’s mobile phone bill). Donations of $25 or more get a tax reciept.

To view the YouTube video visit