The Starfish Pack Program helps feed hungry students on the weekend whose families are financially struggling. (Brandon Tucker/The News)

The Starfish Pack Program helps feed hungry students on the weekend whose families are financially struggling. (Brandon Tucker/The News)

Maple Ridge student charity keeps doors open after huge wave of community support

The Starfish Pack Program still needs additional funding to make it to end of school year

A lot has changed for Ineke Boekhorst and the Starfish Pack Program in the last two months.

Not only has the funding for the student charity more than doubled, but it has also significantly increased the number of hungry students that it helps each week.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows student charity in desperate need of funding

Boekhorst, who is the chair of the program, said that a $15,000 donation from Prospera Credit Union was a large part of what kept the Starfish Pack Program from having to close its doors at the end of 2022.

A gofundme set up for the program also received upwards of $5,000 in donations in a little more than a month.

“We were so desperate and needed more funding to continue the program at the time, and we didn’t know what to do,” said Boekhorst. “The response from the community was so heartwarming and so immediate. It gave us hope again.”

She also had many community members approach her about volunteer opportunities with the group, which led to the program adding four new volunteers, which Boekhorst said is the max that they can handle at the moment.

“We also had a group of employees from our local Chances Casino come out one week to assist with packing the starfish packs, in addition to donating $3,000,” said Boekhorst.

Having this surge of funding and volunteers allowed the Starfish Pack Program to help students from two more local schools, adding Whonnock Elementary and c’usqunela Elementary to the list.

“We are now serving 250 starfish packs every week in 23 Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows schools,” said Boekhorst.

RELATED: Trades showcase open to Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows high school students

But despite the flood of support from the community, the Starfish Pack Program is not quite out of the woods yet.

Boekhorst explained that with the current funding the group has, they’ll be able to continue helping students dealing with food insecurity until mid-April.

“We hope the community will continue to support the program, so we can continue until the end of June 2023,” said Boekhorst.

In order to make it to the end of the school year, Boekhorst estimates that the Starfish Pack Program will need another $40,000 to $50,000, which she said would also give them enough money to start up the program again next September.

“The Meadow Ridge Rotary Club is planning to organize a major fundraiser, with all proceeds going towards the Starfish Pack Program over the summer months,” said Boekhorst. “This will guarantee enough funding for the 2023/2024 school year, starting September 2023.”

But before that can happen, the student program still needs to survive the rest of this school year.

Donations to the Starfish Pack Program can be made by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/starfish-pack.

More information on the program is available at https://starfishpack.com/.


Have a story tip? Email: brandon.tucker@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

charityfood securitymaple ridgeSchool DistrictStudents

Be Among The First To Know

Create a free account today, and start receiving free newsletters.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.



Don't have an account? Click here to sign up