The Lester B. Pearson School Board in Dorval, Que., officially kicked off the holiday month Wednesday morning in Verdun.
Students at Riverview Elementary took to the streets dressed up in holiday hats and festive headbands for the annual walk-a-thon for families struggling with food insecurity.
“We started it 10 years ago just to raise some money for our families in need. We’re just doing it for our community, helping our community. And that’s the whole purpose of this is that we’re trying to help our own,” said physical education teacher and event organizer Scott Lambton.
The school campaign raises money for holiday food baskets for Riverview families in need.
“We’ll just do like staples that they need, like bread and jam and like soups and that kind of stuff. Around this time of year, we’ll fill it with some fruits and some vegetables, and then we’ll also do a gift card as well,” said Lambton.
Each year, students are encouraged to collect pledges up until the day of the walk-a-thon. On Wednesday morning the whole school walked together around the neighbourhood for about one hour.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we get to raise money and make them baskets so that they get the same opportunity as us to have a wonderful Christmas,” said Grade 6 student Gabriela Desourgy.
Each year the school tries to raise enough money to support 20 families.
“I think this year we’re going to be over 20. So this year it seems to be a real big time of need,” Lambton told Global News the pandemic has definitely played a role in the increased demand.
Holiday baskets even include new toys for the children, gathered by former school parent Lori Baylis, whose kids attended Riverview.
“I grew up in Verdun and I want to help families in Verdun,” said Baylis.
Baylis said she collects toys for families in need every year. She started with one church 11 years ago and is now able to give presents to multiple schools.
“I know there’s a lot of families that do need help … and it’s a great feeling to be able to go and help these families knowing that you’re making a good Christmas for some kid in some family,” she said.
Donations are being collected – money and toys – at Riverview until Dec. 10.