Maple Ridge students bring families Christmas cheer

Luncheon will have toys, food for families who use food bank

This Saturday, high school student volunteers from Garibaldi and Thomas Haney secondary will bring a little Christmas cheer to families who use the Friends in Need Food Bank.

About 15 students at Garibaldi, and a similar number at Thomas Haney have been organizing a Christmas luncheon, explains Jackie Ponomariov, Garibaldi’s Key Club editor – a group affiliated with the Kiwanis Service Club.

This Saturday at the Garibaldi cafeteria they will offer a hot dog lunch for 110 children between the ages of two and 12, and some 200 people, including parents. There are new presents wrapped up for everyone, Santa will appear, the school band will play Christmas carols, and Norden the Magician will entertain.

“This is the biggest event of the year for Key Club so everyone is extremely excited,” said Ponomariov.

She explained that both high schools held toy drives to provide presents for their young guests.

“I am happy to report that we have raised a total of 200 toys this year to give out to the kids at the Christmas dinner,” she said. “For the first time, many of our new members will get to experience the smiles on those kids faces and the joy of their families.”

John Cowan, the Kiwanis member who oversees the Key clubs, volunteers at the food bank and is on a first-name basis with many of those who use it.

“Working at the food bank, I can tell you there’s a lot of families in need,” he said. “They don’t want to be there, and they’re good people.”

He said it is great for the students to be involved in such a hands-on way in their community service.

“It shows them at a very early age how important it is to do things for other people, and serve the community, and the satisfaction that brings,” said Cowan.

Ponomariov agrees.

“This organization builds our youth for tomorrow and future generations.”