Since 2008 West Island College has been involved with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, running a volunteer lunch making program through their Peer Support group. Each Monday, the staff lunch room is filled with Peer Support group volunteers from grades 7 to 12 who share part of their lunch break making sandwiches for kids who would otherwise go without. The lunches are delivered to Radisson Park School by Grade 10 CALM students, where some of the Grade 10 students also volunteer as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. The Peer Support group students help to raise funds to purchase groceries for the lunches by making and selling handmade cards.
Leading the volunteers are grade 12 students Aleena and Sam, the group’s facilitators who have been making lunches since they were in grade 7. The BB4CK program at West Island College was run by student Christie Chalifoux when Aleena and Sam began volunteering to make lunches. When Chalifoux graduated Aleena and Sam jumped at the chance to lead the group together, “we enjoyed volunteering so much we really wanted to take over the program” said Sam.
Throughout grade 10 Sam and Aleena learned all about managing the group and by grade 11 they were organizing and leading the volunteers. In addition to organizing the program Aleena and Sam do all the grocery shopping for the lunches. As they prepare for graduation and studying Health Sciences at University, Aleena and Sam have recruited and begun training two students to run the program next year. The duo credit their volunteer experience as a great learning opportunity, “we have learned so much about leadership, teamwork and communication” says Aleena, “creating a lunch program like this is easy to facilitate and organize, and there are so many things to learn from it.”
Aleena and Sam understand and emphasize the impact hunger has on learning; “education is so important, the role that lunches provide, having meals, it’s so significant” Aleena says. “You know that these lunches are going to a child, knowing you are feeding kids, making a difference” Sam added, “we both like that this is a very measurable, tangible contribution. We see directly where the lunches are going. Feeding kids is important.”
Would you like to create a similar BB4CK program at your school? See more info here.