Cowichan students stuff packs for peers

A group of enthusiastic representatives from the Valley’s public secondary schools and middle schools as well as the Cowichan Valley Open Learning Cooperative were cheerfully at work Wednesday, Jan. 7, packing toiletries and clothing into more than 40 backpacks.

The District Student Advisory Council was finishing up its wonderful annual project, an effort that sees them galvanizing their school populations to donate useful items to help the less fortunate.

Usually the job is complete just before Christmas.

"We’re a bit later because school started later because of the strike," group chair Wynn Rederburg said, referring to the long dispute between the teachers’ union and the government.

"We have so much stuff here, though. The Valley is incredibly generous," she said, looking around the busy scene.

District superintendent Joe Rhodes reported to the school board later that day that he and Trustee Cathy Schmidt had both been at the event.

"We were in the presence of probably the most organized kids I know. They’re amazing at going around and getting donations from the community, sorting it all by gender and placing it in 43 backpacks. They did it all in a time span of about 45 minutes, which was quite remarkable."

The packs go out to schools and also to Cowichan Community Options Society.

"They go to young people that often are in poverty situations or unstable home environments where they can make great use of the materials that are the backpacks," Rhodes said. "Community Options was delighted to come and pick up about half of them. We speak to our counsellors at the secondary schools about how many they will need and they are circulated through there as well."