Schools may be closed and lives everywhere upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Aldergrove Rotary’s Starfish Backpack Program is nowhere near stopping.
The club has 66 local families to feed, and provide with essential supplies through the school year even when it is not in session, said club member Janet Ingram-Johnson.
To continue to feed those Aldergrove families, Aldergrove Rotarians are donating $8,000 to the Langley School District Foundation, whose executive director, Susan Cairns, is co-ordinating a gift card program to address the growing needs of the community.
Normally, big blue backpacks get passed out to hungry elementary and middle school students, filled with nutritious foods that the child’s whole family could enjoy.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, social distancing and other public health restrictions, have nixed the Rotary Club’s usual distribution channels.
But “thanks to our new partnership with the school district foundation, this is no longer a concern,” says the club’s Starfish coordinator, Charlie Fox.
“The foundation will make sure they continue to receive supplies for the duration of the school shutdown,” he said.
Starfish families will receive $50 in gift cards to Save-On-Foods or Otter Co-op each week, until the end of the school closure – possibly even the rest of the school year – to make sure their children don’t go hungry, Cairns confirmed.
“It’s a perfect fit,” Fox said about the program adaptation.
The Starfish Backpack program, which began as an Aldergrove Rotary pilot project, has given more than 10,000 backpacks during its five years of operation, Ingram-Johnson expounded.
It garners support from various local businesses throughout the year – including Boston Pizza, Jodi Steeves Realty, the Langley Good Times Cruise-In, and the Thank You For Caring Society.
For now, during its enforced hiatus, donations to the Aldergrove Rotary Club’s Starfish Backpack Program can be made online at starfishpack.com by clicking the “donate” button and selecting “Aldergrove.”
Tax receipts will be issued by Langley’s Encompass Support Services Society, which in normal times facilitates food supplies from Save-On and the Co-op for the packs.
Since March 17, the club has refrained from meeting Friday mornings to curb COVID-19 spread.