Pamela Glover’s goal is to have as little involvement with her school’s Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program as possible. This is not because she doesn’t support the program—she does, wholeheartedly—but because she believes in her students.
A counsellor at West Island College, Glover says she always wanted the kids to run the program independently. “It took three years, but one of the students, Christie Chalifoux, took it on. On the weekend she would go shopping and boil eggs and prepare the sandwich fillings. Then she would bring all that stuff in, and we would have a list of volunteers who would sign up to donate lunches.”
West Island College has been involved with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids since 2008. Students from Grade 7 to Grade 12 dedicate one 45-minute lunch break each week to make sandwiches for students at Radisson School, where some of the older West Island College students also volunteer as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Glover says these older students tell the younger ones involved with Kids Feeding Kids about the children at Radisson school. “They tell a story about a child that ignites that passion in the other children to say, ‘I can do something small and consistent that can make a difference.’”
The Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program is run through Glover’s peer support group, but students are its administrators and recruiters. “Since Christie graduated, we have two girls who have taken it over. They’ve been volunteering in the program since Grade 7. Christie trained these girls last year. That’s how I like it to happen, that there’s a handing down of the responsibility and leadership.”
Raising funds to purchase lunch ingredients is also a student responsibility. Glover says the students create handmade cards and sell them for $2 each, using the proceeds to support Kids Feeding Kids.
Glover says students at West Island College tend to be young people with lots of advantages, and that the program represents an excellent way to teach them the rewards of sharing these advantages. The fact that the program demands a volunteer investment is key to its impact. “Money’s easy. Time is hard,” says Glover. “We have a really busy community and time is a finite resource for some of our kids—most of them are in a lot of extracurricular activities. That’s the important piece. Money can help solve some problems, but one small thing you can do in your life can make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Now an 18-year-old commerce student at the University of Calgary, Christie Chalifoux was until recently the driving force behind the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program at West Island College.
Why did you get involved?
“I joined the peer support group in Grade 7 and heard about Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids through this club. I had been involved with other initiatives that helped the less fortunate, but I was amazed that children in my own city were going without lunch. I have been so fortunate and felt that this was an area I was eager to help with. From Grade 9 to 12, I was the ‘kids feeding kids’ lead.”
You’re considering setting up a similar program of your own. Can you tell us where you are in that process?
“I am working on setting this up through the Ambassadors Club at the University of Calgary. We are in the initial stages of getting it going, trying to let students know about the program and getting them involved. I hope over the next four years I can help the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids program grow at the University of Calgary.”
In your opinion/experience, why do programs like these matter?
“This program puts life into perspective for me. I don’t want anyone to go without food, especially children. It’s crucial that they enjoy healthy foods, which help with their ability to stay healthy, learn, remain active and mainly, focus on being kids!”
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