PHOTO: Despite being in a cast, staffer Zaniah Friesen worked at the White Spot in Willowbrook on Aug. 10 for Pirate Pak Day. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
Heading back to school can be a very exciting time for kids.
For many, the anticipation is almost tangible as children prepare to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.
Even the chance to learn so much new stuff is truly exhilarating for these young minds.
This special time of year is often identifiable by the smell of new notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils, plus the feel of new clothes as they prepare to strut into their new class.
But for families that are struggling financially, back to school is a time of anxiety, stress, and debt as they scramble to get their kids the long list of supplies needed.
Reality is, not all families can afford even the back to school necessities – let alone any of the bonus extras.
Well, there’s a number of ways to help out, including through the a school supply drive program offered at Staples in Langley, where people can give to make a difference for students in need.
Here in Langley, the donations are funnelled through the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope, as well as specific families identified in some of the public schools in School District #35, explained the Langley Staples store manager K.J. Karwal.
Across Canada, the goal is to raise $1.7 million for students through donations of products or monetary gifts. Locally, Karwal hopes to raise a whopping $15,000 that he predicts will help countless Langley families.
It’s a way of helping children have the best possible start to this upcoming school year, by ensuring they get the supplies they need, he said.
“A loonie or $5 would be great. It goes a long ways,” Karwal added.
For seven of the past 10 years that he has been managing the store, the team has collected between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of donations (both product and money) each year.
For back to school 2016, he’s ramping up the efforts. The local Staples team has been reaching out to other area businesses, asking them to come aboard and sponsor Langley students at $50 each.
“We’re part of this community and we want to make sure every kid in this community has the supplies they need,” Karwal said, anxious to help about 300 families through the Salvation Army, as well as many more kids in need – as identified by school administrators.
In the meantime, those needing help with school supplies still have time to register through the Gateway of Hope at 604-514-7375, or in person at 5787 Langley Bypass.
The Salvation Army registration deadline is the end of August, with full criteria listed at gatewayofhope.ca, under “services.”
Their program assists students, in Kindergarten through Grade 12, with the basic supplies they will need to succeed.
Donations can be dropped off at Staples, the Gateway of Hope, the Salvation Army thrift store in Aldergrove, and at five participating Starbucks in town identified by a supply donation box.
People can also donate online at staples.ca/supplydrive.
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New kid on the block
Speaking of learning, there’s a new kids – on the educational front – that is moving into town.
Join me in welcoming Melissa Baxandall and her 25-member (full- and part-time) team at Creative Kids Learning Centre – a junior kindergarten and infant/toddler full-day child care facility – is opening soon in Willowbrook.
This company, which was opened 20 years ago by Sandra Christian, now operates 10 centres in Surrey, South Surrey, and soon Langley.
They’re hoping to make its move into the Langley area in September, Baxandall said, taking over almost 8,500 square feet of space licensed for 136 children.
Work is already well underway on transforming the new digs below the BDO offices on 64th Avenue, just west of 200th Street (near Shoppers Drug Mart).
“At Creative Kids, you will discover tailored programs that have been thoughtfully designed for your child’s precious early years. Working closely with parents through a happy, fun and unhurried atmosphere, we develop an interest in learning,” Baxandall said.
“Our mandate is to provide early learning skills, appropriate social skills, and to let each child explore, play and be as creative as they want to be in a safe, loving environment. Each day we look forward to helping all of our Creative Kids reach their maximum potential,” she concluded.
Golfers aid students
It’s a ‘hole’ new ball game for Langley students thanks to business owners and golfers in this community.
Langley School District Foundation is gearing up for its 11th annual golf tournament later this month, and proceeds from this year’s event will go to the Food for Thoughts campaign in the schools, and the youth homeless initiative.
The food program provides breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to 3,000 students who come to school hungry every day. It also provides help to more than 160 students who find themselves helpless and alone, with nowhere to turn and nowhere to go.
“It’s hard for many Langley residents to believe that such travesties exist in Langley,” said foundation executive director Susan Cairns.
“But when they realize that there are so many hungry and/or homeless students within their own community, Langley residents, businesses, parents, teachers and corporations step up time after time to help their community members. That defines Langley and that is what makes my job so easy and fulfilling.”
Tickets are $195 for single, $725 for a foursome, or $60 for dinner only.
The event is once again being held at The Redwoods Golf Course on Wednesday, Aug. 31, with registration starting at 10 a.m. a tailgate party at 10:30, and a shotgun start at 11:30 a.m.
For those anxious to help out local students through these programs, and play a little golf, tickets are available from Susan Cairns at 604-532-1464 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is also available at www.langleyschooldistrictfoundation.com.
PHOTO: Travis Woodland, Logan Burbridge, Breanna Woodland and Carter Burbridge visited the White Spot in Willowbrook on Aug. 10 for Pirate Pak Day. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
Pirate lovers help kids
And on the topic of kids, I wanted to just following up on past coverage of the White Spot Pirate Pak Day.
Thanks in large part to fellow Langleyites, the team at the Willowbrook restaurant broke a national record, selling close to 3,000 of the 53,000 adult and children’s Pirate Paks sold that day – $2 from each going to send kids and young adults with life-threatening illnesses and chronic disabilities to Zajac Ranch for Children.
The national effort last week will send 70 kids in need to the Mission camp.
And numbers haven’t been seen yet, but our local DQ restaurants were sure bopping last Thursday, during the Blizzard Miracle Treat Day.
Way to go Langley. Job well done on both fundraisers benefitting children.
PHOTO: The White Spot in Willowbrook broke national records selling close to 3,000 Pirate Paks on Aug. 10, to raise money to send kids to camp. Rebekah Brown and Tayler Ballendine served up customers. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)