Anyone wishing to support a worthy local cause this Christmas season need to look no further than the Starfish Pack program.
In its second year in Williams Lake, the food program is run by the Rotary Club of Williams Lake Daybreak members and aims to provide additional food to elementary-aged children who may not get enough to eat on weekends.
Rotary Starfish Chair Lori Macala said Starfish Pack is supported by the community through donations and is making a difference for 43 children who need that extra support to access healthy food.
“There are so many kids locally who aren’t getting enough to eat on the weekends,” said Macala, noting the program is a perfect fit for Rotary. “That’s who we are, we try to make things better in the world. But to do things here in our own backyard and actually make a difference feels great.”
Macala picks up the backpacks from three participating elementary schools in Williams Lake mid-week.
On Friday mornings, volunteers meet at the Child Development Centre where they pack the backpacks each with a rotating nutritious meal menu that includes fresh fruit and enough food to make two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks.
“It’s often feeding the whole family for the weekend,” Macala said of the generous amount of supplies.
The backpacks are then distributed to the schools and handed out confidentially to children in need as identified by the school staff.
Volunteers such as retired lawyer Ken O’Brien, who helps pack and distribute the backpacks, said he supports the program because he understands how important it is for children to have nutritious meals.
Retired teacher Maureen Margetts also volunteers with the program and said she knows there is always a need for food in schools.
“I used to always keep a cupboard full of extra clothes and food in my classroom and I know a lot of teachers who still do.”
Macala said it costs $525 to sponsor one child for a school year but any amount helps.
“Every little bit counts because it all adds up to another backpack.”