Mark Finamore knows that youth have the power to make a positive difference.

The Grade 12 student was recently named one of the winners of Coast Capital Savings' The Power of Youth contest, which recognizes young people in BC who are giving back to their communities.

Mark won the $2,500 prize on behalf of the school's Me to We Club and all its members for running a coffee drive-thru on campus last year to raise money for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.

"I've been involved in the club since Grade 9 and our goal is to bring the community together through events that raise awareness for local and global initiatives," Mark says. "Last year I was one of the heads of the club, and we wanted to introduce something new. I always noticed the heavy flow of traffic in the morning along the driveway and thought it would be super awesome to take advantage of that in some way."

Mark connected with local businesses to secure coffee and pastries, and the Me to We Club set up a by-donation drive-thru coffee shop in front of School House.

"In our AP Economics class we were studying the profit maximization of fast food chains and learned that up to 70% of the fast food industry is sold through drive-thrus, so I thought it would be great to do a drive-thru on campus," he says.

The Me to We Club held three drive-thru mornings last year – open from 7:40 to 8:15 am – and raised more than $1,000.

"It was a lot of work getting the initiative going and organizing the event, but it's very rewarding being able to raise so much money to help support the local homeless community," Mark says.

In the summer, Mark submitted the drive-thru project to The Power of Youth contest in an effort to secure a cash prize that would be put towards operating the drive-thru again this year. He was announced as one of the contest winners late last month.

"Coast Capital Savings is committed to supporting young people in our communities,” says Maureen Young, Director Community Leadership, Coast Capital Savings. "Coast Capital’s Power of Youth contest that ran throughout the summer was about engaging young people and challenging them to think about how they could contribute and drive change in their own backyards. The beauty of Mark’s submission was the simplicity of the idea coupled with the tangible impact that it has in the Victoria community. That is the power of youth. Mark exemplifies that."

The Me to We Club will be operating the drive-thru again this school year, the first of which is this coming Friday (October 25). Coffee and donuts – from Picnic Coffee and Empire Donuts – will be sold by donation on the driveway in front of School House from 7:40 to 8:15 am. Compostable cups are available, but you're encouraged to bring your own mug.

"It's going to be a really exciting event," Mark says. "So come out and support your local homeless community and let's make an effort to end homelessness in Victoria."