News

Gathering back-to-school snacks for kids

Laura Barton

By Laura Barton, Tribune Staff

First Student and The Hope Centre were in Welland at Zehrs on Saturday to collect snack donations for kids heading back to school. The donations will go towards The Hope Centre’s Snacks and Sneakers campaign, which provides kids with new shoes and a week’s worth of snacks for the beginning of the school year. From left, back, Darlene Ort, First Student driver; Clem Raby, First Student driver; Yvonne Sodtka, First Student location manager; Shona Dixon, The Hope Centre summer student. From left, front, Christina Lajeunesse, The Hope Centre fund developer; Emily Dedonatis, The Hope Centre summer student; Nevik Haymes, First Student rider and Sodtka’s grandson. Laura Barton/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network

First Student and The Hope Centre were in Welland at Zehrs on Saturday to collect snack donations for kids heading back to school. The donations will go towards The Hope Centre’s Snacks and Sneakers campaign, which provides kids with new shoes and a week’s worth of snacks for the beginning of the school year. From left, back, Darlene Ort, First Student driver; Clem Raby, First Student driver; Yvonne Sodtka, First Student location manager; Shona Dixon, The Hope Centre summer student. From left, front, Christina Lajeunesse, The Hope Centre fund developer; Emily Dedonatis, The Hope Centre summer student; Nevik Haymes, First Student rider and Sodtka’s grandson. Laura Barton/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network

With back to school fast approaching, First Student and The Hope Centre in Welland want to help make things easier on children and their families.

On Saturday, First Student parked one of its buses under the overhang at Welland’s Zehrs location during store hours, opened up the doors and welcomed donations from the public. The team of First Student and Hope Centre employees and volunteers were asking primarily for kid’s snacks.

Christina Lajeunesse, fund developer with The Hope Centre, said the collection is to be a part of the centre’s annual Snacks and Sneakers campaign in partnership with Canadian Tire.

The campaign provides kids in need with a new pair of shoes and a week’s worth of snacks for back to school.

“For that event, Canadian Tire provides the funds to purchase shoes for back to school and it was always up to the charity to supply the snacks for the event,” Lajeunesse explained.

She said First Student driver Darlene Ort had approached The Hope Centre and asked if there was anything they could do to help out, and they came up with this Fill the Bus event specifically for back to school.

“This is our second annual Fill the Bus fundraiser,” Ort said. “Doing something for the kids is just kind of natural, and we do it because we can and because we want to.”

She said being a driver herself, this kind of event hits home because she’s seen kids that use food programs, so being able to help in this way is something she’s happy to do.

Yvonne Sodtka, location manager for First Student, said they’re always committed to helping kids and thought this was a great opportunity to do so.

The team was hoping to gather as many snack as possible on Saturday to go with the already 351 pairs of shoes lined up for the Snacks and Sneakers day on Aug. 23.

Lajeunesse said the goal is to have five different snacks they can give away with each pair of sneakers, which is designed to get kids through the first week of school.

“It’s usually a pretty incredible event,” she said of Snacks and Sneakers. “It’s a very heartwarming day to be able to give back to something like that.”

She said back to school is always an expensive time for families and if they can help to lighten the load, they’re happy to do that.

Only a few hours into gathering snacks, she was already impressed with the quality of snacks people were donating to the cause.

She said Zehrs has always been a big supporter of The Hope Centre too, and being allowed to park the bus on the store property has given The Hope Centre a chance to engage with the community and let people know about the programs they have.

The Snacks and Sneakers event will take place on Aug. 23 at The Hope Centre on King Street in Welland between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Lajeunesse said it’s a first come, first served set up and there is no need to register in advance.

lbarton@postmedia.com

Twitter: @LBartonTribune 



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