Marcia Mahoney of Amsterdam Greenhouses with the cyclamen plants and Rotarian Aneke Boekhorst with the Grinch trees that are being sold in a fundraiser to support the Starfish Backpack program. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Selling Christmas flowers to feed Maple Ridge kids

Rotary Backpack program fundraiser on the grow

By buying a Grinch tree or other Christmas plant, you could help feed children in Maple Ridge.

More and more local children are bringing home a backpack full of food every Friday. The Starfish Pack program was brought to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows by the MeadowRidge Rotary Club, and last year, and has expanded rapidly. It began in September 2016 with 10 backpacks in one school, and the program is now distributing 69 backpacks weekly to seven local schools, said Meadowridge Rotary Club past president Ineke Boekhorst, the chair of the Starfish Pack committee.

“The backpacks are given to hungry kids in our own backyard, who according to principals, teachers or councillors are needing assistance with food over the weekends,” she explained.

“We are thinking the need is 150 to 175, across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows,” said Boekhorst, the estimates based on the fact they are in seven out of 20 schools, where the need was identified earliest.

At the present time, they aren’t looking for new children for the program, because the resources aren’t there to handle the demand yet.

Each backpack contains two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, snacks and three pieces of fresh fruit. That’s a lot of food, and stretched over a school year, the cost for each student to receive a backpack each Friday throughout the entire school year is $525.

Boekhorst acknowledged it is “only possible with the much appreciated assistance of many local community volunteers and businesses.”

She said the feedback from participating schools has been great – they report kids who have both improved attendance and concentration from receiving the most basic of supports.

“Food does wonders – when the kids are fed, their brains function much better,” said Boekhorst.

And she said they have had letters from families, passed through principals and back to Rotary, reporting how kids will take a backpack and share food with their siblings.

“It’s doing much more than we ever anticipated,” she said of the program.

Seeing the demand, Rotary found a way to get some packs to students during the summer, and are still looking at the logistics of continuing the service through summer and over long holidays.

Now they are selling Christmas plants to get more funding.

“Please help us to raise funding for this program; the need is considerably larger than we can accommodate right now,” said Boekhorst.

Buyers can purchase Christmas plants or donate directly towards this very worthwhile project, and www.starfishpack.com has all the information plus the opportunity to donate online. Every donation over $25 receives a tax receipt from the Friends in Need foodbank.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Pitt Meadows woman tired of speeders on Bonson

Speed bumps or increased enforcement are needed to curtail racers through a park zone

LETTER: Lock cats and small dogs away from wily coyotes

If you have a letter you’d like to submit, please email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com.

LETTER: Priority should be given to locals accessing Golden Ears park

Maple Ridge residents should be able to reserve new day passes ahead of out-of-towners: one local

When life gives you lemons…

Maple Ridge kids make the most of summer by setting up lemonade stand

SHARE: Rainy days of summer in Maple Ridge still a sight to behold

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Fraser Valley Bandits fall to Edmonton in CEBL final

Bandits lose 90-73 to Stingers in Sunday’s Summer Series final

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Most Read