New backpack program starts up to help feed families in District 69

Fifty backpacks stocked with food sent home each week

Parksville Qualicum Beach has struggling families, whether people believe so or not, said Virginia Worcester, who is starting up a new program for local families in need.

She’s expanding Christmas charity efforts, which have been around in School District 69 since 1997, to be year-round. Starting this Christmas break, a backpack program will be implemented into schools from Bowser to Nanoose.

The program sends children home with a backpack stocked with food every Friday. Worcester said the district has already found 50 families to participate, and hopes they’ll be able to expand in the future.

Worcester said she wanted to start the backpack program because she saw the number of families needing help increasing.

“Poverty is in one in three families in Oceanside District 69 area, which people don’t realize,” she said. “They don’t wear a badge, they don’t look any different than the rest of us.”

READ MORE: Fundraising started for Christmas hampers for 100 families

Making the program year-round is a costly effort, but Worcester said she’s confident they’ll be able to meet their goal. Supporting a family for a year costs $575. Any donations receive a tax receipt, with all money going directly to the program.

“Fifty families this year is something that I feel confident that I can get the [community] to back,” she said. “Come next September, maybe we can adopt five more and then maybe 10 more.”

Since the program will replace the Secret Santa and All They Want for Christmas programs, the backpacks will contain a special backpack with two week’s worth of supplies, including food, clothing and toiletries, at the beginning of Christmas break. Starting in January, the backpacks will go home to the allotted families every Friday with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks.

On Friday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. there will be a steak-and-wine fundraiser for the program at the Mt. Arrowsmith Golf Club in Qualicum Beach. Tickets are $30 per person. The event will include a silent auction, entertainment and balloon draws.

For more information, contact Worcester at 250-240-0772.

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

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