It was a flurry of organized chaos as students from Mr. Poulin’s Grade 6 Coquihalla Elementary School class flung apples, mandarines, onions and carrots into plastic bags.
Keira Brunn made sure her fellow students had plenty of each food item to pack bags with as they took turns lining up and working together inside a hall at Grace Baptist Church Tuesday.
“Basically we’re donating all the toys to people who don’t get toys and food,” she said. “It’s pretty fun actually, I like it. We get to see what other children get for Christmas and I get to refill the boxes. I think that it’s really nice that we get to do this.”
The students helped pack up produce and unload toys, all of which will go to families who need them during the holidays as part of the Holly Days program.
“We really appreciate that they’re energetic, they’re young, they’re very helpful,” said Michele Thornhill, executive director of Hope Community Services who take part in organizing the annual event.
“On Wednesday, we have our families come…they can choose toys, they’ll get bread, they’ll get treats, they’ll get produce. They’ll get gift cards for the grocery stores. And any other items that we have, we’ve got some coconut clusters and stuffing mix,” she said.
After families visit Holly Days, single people also come and receive food items and grocery store gift cards.
“It’s a good community service project that my class has been doing for about 10 years and good community fun, helping out the community,” said teacher Aaron Poulin.
As part of their social studies curriculum the class does one community service project each month. Projects have included picking up garbage in the community, cleaning up the bike park with Hope Mountain Centre and visiting seniors at Riverside Manor.
“If there’s a need or something we’re interested in, we go and check it out. We usually get them to do some journal writing about it to see how they feel, and most of the time they feel good about helping in the community. And hopefully that leads them to volunteering later in life.”
In total 611 individuals, including 226 children, received food and toys from the Holly Days program this year. Dianne MacDonnell, food bank coordinator, said this translates to almost 10 per cent of Hope’s population.
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