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Adopt-A-School: Chilliwack School Needs Help To Fight Poverty

“A lot of money is allocated to support programs here, but there are some… loopholes where some families are not getting proper food or clothing and we are not able to provide as much as they need. .” —Professor Ashley Munro

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Chilliwack Central Elementary is a small school in the heart of this small town’s downtown, but there’s nothing insignificant about the effects of poverty on the lives of some of the 200 children who attend here.

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For families on social assistance or living on minimum wage or with low-paying jobs, their needs are multiple. They need food, they need clothes, they need ordinary hygiene items – they need a foothold in a world of sufficiency that is moving away each week as the cost of food increases and rent leaves them helpless.

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Teacher Ashley Munro has seen it all unfold since she joined the school six years ago.

“Our needs are pretty big,” Munro says — big being an adjective for big not wonderful. “A lot of money is allocated to support programs here, but there are a few… loopholes where some families are not getting proper food or clothing and we are not able to provide as much as they need. .”

This is a description of the situation in every school in downtown BC

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Loopholes or not, these shortcomings are not overlooked.

Informal programs are used to feed these families and clothe and support their children who range in age from six to 10 years.

So where does the money come from to do this?

“I apply for grants,” says Munro.

“I post on Facebook and Instagram that I’m looking for things. I get quite a few donations from people I know, from friends, from family members,” she says before finally admitting that she is the biggest donor behind it all.

The scale of the effort is remarkable, ranging from sending food home in children’s backpacks so families can eat – sometimes delivering it themselves – to worrying about their dental hygiene and personal, and if they are sufficiently dressed.

“Sometimes I’ll reach out to families and ask them if they need extra support at home for food,” she says. “We get a donation from FreshCo, so I try to get what I can out of it, then pack bags of food. A lot of people don’t have a car, so sometimes I take the food home.

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She also spends time at Costco buying snacks and looking for clothes and shoes at thrift stores.

Concerned about dental hygiene, she asks her dentist for toothbrushes and toothpaste every year.

But she paid out of pocket when those items ran out and for food and shampoo, hairbrushes, hair ties, socks and underwear.

One year she spent the fall knitting headbands for the children to keep them warm on the way to school.

“Some of the stories here are heartbreaking and some are lighthearted and full of joy,” she says. “But we have a very big problem with the routine. About half of my class needs food in the morning because they are not being fed at home. Some children have not slept or experience many traumas that prevent them from having restful sleep.

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Lack of sleep causes them to be late and miss breakfast. She therefore plans to fill this big gap by offering a late breakfast that would support some of the 60 children in three classes located on the upper floor of the school.

Munro applied for $5,500 from the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School program to buy snacks, breakfast food, utensils, a toaster, microwave and to buy shoes, clothing and basic necessities for some of the children.

“Winter is coming and we have a lot of students who don’t have rain jackets or sweaters that are warm enough. It’s about socks, proper shoes – a lot of them have holes in their shoes.

“We are trying to find donations for shoes, but at this time we are very low on donations because we keep giving things away. Yes, more socks, shoes, mittens… the approaching winter is always difficult.

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“But we are all doing what we can. It’s definitely a work of the heart.

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How to make a donation

1 ONLINE: Donate online with a credit card at vansunkidsfund.ca.

2. PHONE: To donate by credit card, call 604-605-2264.

3. MAIL: Complete the donation form here and mail it to the address on the form with completed credit card details or a check/money order payable to Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Society.

Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Society

The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund welcomes donations from readers year-round to enable us to help hungry children. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of donations received go to grant projects to help needy children in British Columbia.

Contact: Michelle Roebuck, Fund Administrator, at [email protected]or call 604-605-2264.


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