Emotions bubbled to the surface as second-year Social Service Worker Program students at Lambton College made a $10,000 presentation to the Open Doors Drop In Centre on South Christina Street this week.
The centre is a small, little known haven for anyone over the age of 16 who either has used the mental health system or feels they have a mental health issue.
The money was raised through a series of fundraisers in the community over a period of several months.
Open Doors was chosen by the class from a shortlist of three possible recipients back in September.
"You folks (the students) are astounding and priceless," said Open Doors assistant program director Sharon Nickerson, a 2008 graduate of the Social Services program at the college, in accepting the donations amid hugs and tears with several of the students.
"You are our heroes," she added.
The money will be used for capital upgrades to the centre (in particular a new fridge and freezer) and to help with programs such as life skills and peer support groups.
Nickerson said education is the key to breaking the stigma of mental illness.
Several college representatives, including president Tony Hanlon spoke at the ceremony, congratulating the students on their passion and effort
"I am so proud of you people," said Hanlon.
"The work that you are doing will go a long way to helping those who need the help."