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High school hairdressers fill nourishing backpacks for Aldergrove’s hungry kids

Starfish program kicks off fourth year by reaching a near 10,000 backpacks
Grade 11 and 12 students in ACSS’s Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE IT) hairdressing program help out every year with filling bags with groceries for hungry kids in the community. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

On Thursday (Sept. 12), hairdressing students at Aldergrove Community Secondary School (ACSS) spent their lunchtime volunteering to fill bags of food alongside Aldergrove Rotary Club members.

The Starfish Backpack Program – implemented by Aldergrove Rotarians in 2015 – sends backpacks containing bags of food home with disadvantaged local children.

ACSS’ 2019-20 hairdressing class has eight Grade 11 and 12 students – all who lined up in a queue, following the lead of Rotarians as they picked up and packed each item of food, ensuring every bag got the right amount of nourishment.

The class followed in the footsteps of the past three years of hairdressers at ACSS. Once completed, the bags are transported to designated school childcare workers to be distributed.

This school year marks the Rotary Club’s fourth year continuing the program, which first started as a pilot project three years ago, serving just two elementary schools and 20 children.

The subsequent school year (from September to June) saw 40 bags filled for hungry children to take home on Fridays after school.

RELATED: Aldergrove Starfish program gets boost

The expansion of the backpack program locally, has been credited to “generous support of the Aldergrove community and businesses,” Rotary president Pauline Buck said. 

This school year, 60 children from four local schools will receive weekly backpacks of food, Buck emphasized.

The meals in the backpacks, both perishable and non-perishable, are determined by an Encompass Support Services Society nutritionist, and provided at a discount by Aldergrove’s Save-On-Foods and Otter Co-op retailers.

On Thursday, the combined group was able to provide toothbrushes and toothpaste to start the year fresh with hygienic supplies, thanks to Dr. Lana Vohra.

Backpack recipients attend four Aldergrove schools, including Shortreed Elementary, Parkside Centennial Elementary, North Otter Elementary, and Betty Gilbert Middle School.

READ MORE: Aldergrove Starfish ready for back to school

Buck said the backpacks are designed to provide easy-to-prepare meals for kids and possibly their families, as many are known to share the haul with siblings.

“While the schools are able to offer breakfast and sometimes lunch on weekdays, many of these children come to school Monday mornings hungry – some not having had anything to eat all weekend,” Buck said.

Rotarian, and former ACSS principal, Charlie Fox said the Rotary club is approaching 10,000 backpacks being provided to hungry children.

Those interested in sponsoring an Aldergrove kid with a backpack of food for the school year, at $575, can do so at by selecting Aldergrove under the donate drop-down.