Adopt-a-School: Wishing Tree finally starts to deliver
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Pen and pencil sales feed hungry children
There are many things Jordan Sidoo could be doing in his spare time.
His family is wealthy, he attends one of Vancouver’s most prestigious private schools and as far as freedom for a 17-year-old goes — the world is his oyster.
But for the past three months his time has been dedicated to selling pen and pencil sets, and utility bags online, to feed hungry children on Vancouver’s east side.
And on Thursday he and his family came to Queen Alexandra Elementary on Broadway at Clark Drive to hand over $10,000 to the school to keep its emergency breakfast program going, which feeds upwards of 70 children a day.
Jordan’s efforts raised $5,600. His parents David and Manjy, who were in the kitchen making pancakes, made up the rest from the Sidoo Family Giving foundation.
So why did he do it?
“I want to raise awareness about how important breakfast is as a meal for kids,” said the St. George’s Grade 12 student.
Sidoo raised the money through his website (breakfast-club.ca), which he began after reading The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School stories that showed impoverished children were turning up at school hungry and in need of food.
“I will keep the website going for the next few months and try to raise some more money,” he said.
“A lot of my friends and family and teachers supported me. It was awesome. Even when I go to university next year, I’ll try to come back and do this,” he said.
If Sidoo ever missed a meal in his life it was his own fault, which is more than could be said for many of the children eating breakfast inside Queen Alexandra Thursday morning.
He admitted as much when presenting the $10,000 cheque to the school’s Catherine McCambridge.
“I sometimes forget to eat breakfast if I’m in a rush and I know how hard it is to concentrate in class,” he told the children. “I’m just thinking about getting something eat.”
In his line of sight was a homemade banner on the back wall of the cafeteria that said: “You can’t train the brain if you don’t include food.”
“I agree with that,” he said reading out the slogan “and I just want to raise as much money as I can.”
In the last two years the Sidoo family has put tens of thousands of dollars into school breakfast programs that have fed hundreds of children as well as paying to refurbish a playground at an east Vancouver school whose playground had been condemned.
Watching all this was inner city project teacher Jamine Hickman.
“The breakfast program at the school is essential,” she said.
“A lot of families are struggling and because of this donation we are able to feed them.”
A number of hungry parents were eating, too, and one of the volunteers from the kitchen went over to a mother sitting next to her child and gave her some extra containers of yogurt to take away.
The mother gave her a hug and it was all over in a second — just a quick flash of concern and gratitude between them.
“We have single parents with multiple children, some with babies, and for them it’s one less worry if their child gets a proper breakfast here,” said Hickman.
“Maybe they’d only get a granola bar at home — if anything — so this is vital.”
The school also has a Wishing Tree store that supplies needy families with food, baby food, or items such as toothpaste or feminine hygiene products in case of emergencies.
It was set up a year ago with a donation from the Vancouver and District Labour Council and Hickman said it’s proved invaluable.
“It’s not there as a crutch for people, families know it’s just for emergencies and there’s not been a lot of abuse. We’re so grateful to the labour council for what they have done,” she said.
“And we are grateful for Jordan and his family. It’s been a good village that’s raised Jordan — his parents, his teachers, his community — and now he’s part of the village feeding these children and helping raise them. I really applaud him.”