A friendly competition among peers has brought great results to a worthy cause at Sandwich Secondary School this week.
Covid-19 has kept high school students from the ‘true high school experience’ but thanks to a no-contact initiative, they’ve had a chance to feel a sense of community – not just within their school, but through the Town of LaSalle as well.
Every year, Sandwich’s Student Parliament runs a can drive for the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church – LaSalle Community Food Bank in LaSalle. This year Sarah Moore, the Leadership class teacher at Sandwich Secondary decided to include her students in the contactless can drive alongside Student Parliament as an activity to teach the importance of helping others.
Inspired by the June 27 Miracle the students printed hundreds of neon orange information sheets asking for non-perishable items, and handed them out around the Town.
“Their homework was to hand out at least 100 letters to each of the houses,” said Moore. “We went back to those houses the following week to collect the cans and the response was overwhelming, we have an entire classroom full of donated food. Between what we collected and what other students brought in, we’re close to around 10,000 cans”
Other classrooms and students participated outside the programs and courses as well, creating their own competition amongst friends.
Will Telasco is a Grade 12 student at Sandwich Secondary. He said he decided to get involved in the can drive with his friend Tyler Declerk and Business teacher Rob Jasey, by starting with 100 cans each. As numbers increased between the ‘competitors’ Telasco and Declerk decided to do one last feat to collect to most food.
“We ended up leaving class a bit early to go to eight different Dollarama’s and bought 3,038 packs of ramen noodles,” said Telasco. “Participating in something like this really helped us understand that there not everyone is as well off as we are, they need help that we can provide. I definitely plan to do this again in the future, though this will probably be my last can drive with the high school, but for this cause, I’d definitely still do it again.”
The duo ended up raising close to 3,500 – enough food to fill a trailer, themselves towards the cause.
“It was really nice to see the community get involved,” said Moore. “I think this experience really opened the student’s eyes to the sense of community and really made them appreciate the community a bit more as well. After spending the last two years in lockdown, they got to do good for other people and it was really touching for them… I tell my students this all the time, all you have to do for others, is show up and give an hour of your time. A few hours of my time has now changed the lives of families in need for a couple months. When I told the students to go hand out letters, they initially complained it was cold out and didn’t want to, but once they actually got out there their attitudes completely changed and they actually started becoming excited about what they were doing.”
Some of the homeowners who participated in donating goods even left encouraging notes for the students with the canned goods – all of which are now hanging in Moore’s classroom for inspiration.
Moore said she wants the students of Sandwich to remember how great it felt for them to participate in this successful can drive.
Debbie Wilkinson is the Manager of the LaSalle Community Food Bank, located at St Andrew’s Anglican church. She said the food bank feeds around 70 families regularly – and counting and this time of year is when the food bank is most in need of donations – and with Covid-19, the food bank struggled significantly with local schools being a big supporter of their cause.
FreshCo is also coming on board to become a regular supporter of fresh foods for the food bank. Wilkinson said their partnership with FreshCo isn’t a corporate movement, it’s purely a community support initiative, giving back to the people who need help the most.
“After Christmas, we get minimal amounts of donations for the rest of the year,” said Wilkinson. “People will drop off bags of food here and there, but over the years the donations have slowed down mid-year and we start running really low by the summertime which is when we need products more because the kids are out of school and they’re hungrier… The youth are our future. If they get an idea of the needs of the community they’re living in at a young age and understand that while LaSalle is a very affluent community, prices are increasing, families are struggling to keep up and there’s a possibility of it all getting worse – but things like this can drive at Sandwich make all the difference, they’re our saviour.”
Residents who are interested in donating, and want to get exactly what the food bank is lacking at that time, can call Wilkinson at 519-734-8812. Some items the food bank accepts include;
- canned and boxed foods
- household Products
- personal hygiene products
- fresh produce when in season and, when available, apples and fruit
- cash donations
“Helping somebody else for a few minutes can change a life,” said Moore. “Don’t just do it now, keep doing it after you graduate, when you’re adults and are married with families and jobs, remember how it felt to donate your time, and show up.”
Wilkinson urges LaSalle residents to remember the food bank is there year-round, and donations are always needed.