Rocky Mountain Chocolate steps up at a crucial time
Surrey families receiving food aid from the school district received an unexpected treat when $30,000 worth of chocolates — courtesy of Rocky Mountain Chocolate owner Tammi Kerzner — were distributed with food parcels this weekend.
“I just want to give a huge thanks to Tammi for doing this,” said Sarah McKay, the administrator of Surrey’s Safe Schools program. “They are doing massive donations across the province to hospitals and first responders and getting this donation allowed us to do something special for our families.”
Safe Schools deals with the most at risk and vulnerable students in Surrey and their families. The unit includes two RCMP officers as well as school district staff.
McKay’s team is now involved in the distribution of meals — up to 1,700 being served daily — and also deliver food and grocery cards to needy families, mostly in South Surrey, who live too far from the district’s grab-and-go sites.
Kerzner, whose family has supported The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign which raises funds to feed and clothe impoverished children, said she wanted to do something for those families.
“We just want to help as many people as we can,” said Kerzner. “I’ve sat on a lot of (charity) boards and many times people just put their heads down and leave it for others to do. But I hope to inspire those who can help to come forward.”
Rocky Mountain Chocolates will be giving away $500,000 worth of inventory from its 65 stores across Canada to hospitals, schools and food banks.
McKay said the donation of 40 cases of chocolates — about 1,000 pounds — enabled Safe Schools to create special ‘Spring Celebration’ baskets.
“We want the baskets to celebrate Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi and Ramadan. It wasn’t something we had planned but this donation gave us the opportunity to give families something special over the long weekend.
“People deserve a treat especially in times like this. It’s really appreciated.”
The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund which runs Adopt-A-School has launched a special Adopt-A-School COVID-19 appeal to raise funds to feed impoverished children whose families had relied on school meals to keep them fed.
The regular AAS campaign sent almost $900,000 to more than 100 B.C. schools to feed and clothe children in need this year but with schools closed those programs are halted.
In order to feed these children — and many children whose parents are now out of work — some school districts and individual staff have launched emergency food distribution programs and are appealing to AAS for help.
The requests paint a similar picture: impoverished families and those newly unemployed are suffering and need assistance with food and necessities.
An application from child and youth care worker Aryn Kennedy in Agassi is typical:
“We are a rural community (and) serve multiple vulnerable … families who rely solely on our support for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Without these (meals) our community goes without,” said Kennedy.
Adding to the problem is the fact many families needing help have little or no transportation.
“We find families now unemployed who can’t afford to insure their vehicles so it’s causing a lot of problems because we’re in the country.”
The effort to feed families is being undertaken by Kennedy and Kim Stanley, the secretary of Kent Elementary school. By themselves they are delivering food and other essentials to 60 households.
To date 24 applications totalling $452,100 have been received by AAS and $267,100 for the first batch has been sent out with the most recent requests under review. More are arriving daily. Donations totalling $376,465 have been received (which includes $100,000 in emergency funds liquidated by The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund which controls AAS).
No administration fees are taken off donations. Every penny goes to help children.
Vancouver Sun/Province editor in chief Harold Munro is asking readers and the community to support the campaign.
“This pandemic has created enormous problems for us all. But the poor and parents now unemployed and wondering where the next meal for their families is coming from, need our help,” said Munro.
“Since we began the COVID-19 campaign we have received many generous donations for which we are truly grateful. We will do everything we can to help families get through this.”
By Gerry Bellett (email@example.com)