Pacific Custom Brokers has adopted Royal Heights Elementary School in North Surrey, a small school that has many families struggling
Three years ago the owner of Pacific Custom Brokers, Glen Todd, was scanning the pages of The Vancouver Sun and was stopped short by a story outlining the plight of children coming to school hungry and improperly clothed.
“After reading the (Adopt-A-School) story he said ‘we have to be part of this. We have to help children who can’t help themselves,’” said Greg Timm, president and CEO of the Surrey-based company that provides services to keep commercial goods flowing across the Canada-U.S. border.
The company, which employs 200 people in Surrey, took the message to heart and in 2017 promptly adopted Royal Heights Elementary School in North Surrey, a small school that has many families struggling in poverty.
“Our business has done very well in this community since it was founded 66 years ago on the Pacific Highway at the border crossing. And we need to give back. This cause is the No. 1 thing we do in the community,” said Timm.
Employees wanted to become involved, too, so the firm set up a payroll deduction scheme to accept donations which the company matches.
“It’s entirely voluntary and people can put in whatever they like every two weeks. We have a little committee here that runs it and I have to tell you they take great pride in this cause,” said Timm.
This year the company and its staff have donated $9,000 through AAS to provide the school with emergency funds to be used as a last resort when families are without the means to buy food, proper clothing or such necessities as prescriptions for their children.
Royal Heights is one of scores of schools being helped by The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign which provides money to feed children coming to school hungry, buy them winter clothes or keep them fed at weekends.
More than 100 schools across the province are seeking almost $1 million in help this year and many report that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing increased suffering and hardship in their communities.
Before the pandemic put a stop to non-school employees entering Surrey schools, staff from the firm would periodically visit the school to meet with the principal and teachers.
“They’d tell us how things were going with families and how we were helping. Sometimes a family has a special need and they’ll bring it to us. And our staff helps, not because the company says so but because they want to.
“Everyone of us has had a setback in life, or needed help, or has been given a start so we have to give each other a hand-up and that’s the deal here.”
Each August employees buy school supply kits of pencils, crayons, rulers and backpacks for children whose families can’t afford to buy them.
At Christmas they provide hampers for families.
“This is a real heartthrob cause for us. Our staff often call these kids ‘their kids’. It’s been a fantastic experience for us all,” said Timm.
“In the world we are in now, young (working) people like to feel they are doing more than just showing up at the salt mine everyday and then going home.
“They like to feel they work at a company that has a cause and a purpose and does something good in the world. We have a great staff here and I’m proud they want to be part of making our community better.
“And it makes us a better company because it helps bond and bind us together. There are lots of companies out there that could participate in this program and I would highly recommend it to them,” said Timm.
It’s a message that has flowed across the border with the company’s American employees in Whatcom County now donating money to their school board.
By Gerry Bellett (firstname.lastname@example.org)