Locally the Starfish Pack program currently delivers 125 backpacks to 15 schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. (The News/files)

Christmas plants to benefit hungry children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Meadow Ridge Rotary Christmas Plant sale to raise money for the Starfish Backpack Program

Meadow Ridge Rotary Club is hoping to raise enough money with their annual Christmas plant fundraiser to keep their Starfish program afloat.

Demand for the program that feeds children in need with food over the weekend is high, explained past president of the Rotary club and chair of the Starfish Backpack committee, Ineke Boekhorst.

“We are having a very tough time to raise enough funding,” said Boekhorst.

“Many previous supporters are not able to do any fundraising due to COVID and in general, money is very tight right now for everybody,” she added.

Currently teachers across the school district have identified around 300 students who are in need of the program.

In previous school years volunteers would pack each backpack with food enough for two breakfasts, two dinners and healthy snacks on Thursday. The backpacks were delivered to participating schools on Friday. Then on Monday the students would return the backpacks to school for the following weekend.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloth bags are being used instead.

Backpacks can’t be used this year because they can’t be returned to the school for re-use due to Provincial COVID orders, explained Boekhorst.

“Kids are presently receiving a re-usable cloth Starfish shopping bag, which they keep and don’t return to the school. The following week a new bag with food will be provided,” she said.

READ MORE: Giving the gift of literacy to students in SD42

Principals at the schools using the programs have been reporting that there are fewer negative behaviours at school, better attendance, students are more able to focus and there is improved literacy and numeracy among students.

Locally the Starfish Pack program currently delivers 127 bags to 15 elementary schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Across the province 2,713 packs are served to 168 schools in 21 cities.

To feed one child for the school year costs $575.

All of the proceeds from the Meadow Ridge Rotary’s Annual Christmas Plant Fundraiser will be going towards the Starfish Pack Program.

There will be two plant arrangements to choose from this year, supplied at cost to the rotary club by Maple Ridge Florist.

One arrangement will be a in a metal mixed Christmas planter. The other is a 6” Cypress tree in a red tin that is available with or without micro lights.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge Rotary clubs launch new lottery

“What a wonderful way to reach out to loved ones, family, friends colleagues in a socially distanced safe way and support the Starfish Backpack Program at the same time,” said Boekhorst.

The Rotary club will also take requests to donate plants to the McKinney House Hospice.

“We’ll deliver the plants there on your behalf before Christmas,” added Boekhorst.

The cost of each plant ranges from $20 to $30 depending on size and quantity, and includes a hand-made card and taxes.

Shown plant cost includes a beautiful hand-made card and all taxes.

Plants will be available Dec. 7 or later for pick-up and delivery.

The Rotary club will make deliveries in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“This year, due to COVID, we are only able to sell on line, so we are really depending on your generosity and assistance to also spread the word for us,” added Boekhorst.

For more information call 604-467-2420 or email iboekhorst@telus.net or go to meadowridgerotary.ca.



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