A program that worked to ensure that no child at École Poirier elementary school was cold last winter is poised to expand to all 18 elementary schools in the Sooke school district.
The program started in 2016 when Sooke resident, Greer Desveaux was a volunteer lunch-time supervisor at the school and noticed that some children were huddled in schoolyard corners, and not joining their classmates in play. When she investigated, she was told by the children that they were too cold to play.
“Some of them had simply forgotten or lost their scarves, mittens and hats, and some had gotten them wet,” said Desveaux.
“But some of them just didn’t have any warm clothing at all. Regardless of what the situation was, I knew we could do something about it.”
Desveaux began collecting donations of warm clothing, sorting and washing the donations and making them available at the school for any child who wanted them.
“We set up a box and they could go get what they needed and afterward they could keep the items or, if they wanted, they could return it to the ‘wash basket.’ We’d wash the items and return them to the box to make them available to the next child that needed something warm to wear.”
Desveaux, who to this point has been the sole volunteer for this initiative (with the enthusiastic help of her daughter Samantha) is now in the process of gathering even more warm clothing and has purchased the requisite boxes to expand the program to all the district’s elementary schools.
She said that donations of material can be dropped off at École Poirier.
“I’m also looking for any help I can get at the other schools to help collect clothing and with washing and sorting what is on hand,” she said.
“If someone is part of a school and wants to volunteer, they can reach out to me and we can work together to make the program even better.”
Desveaux said that information she’s posted on social media about the program has elicited interest from schools in Greater Victoria and beyond.
“People who want to set up a similar program outside of SD62 can certainly contact me for information on how we do ours and I’d be happy to help them out in setting up their own,” she said.
Desveaux estimates that all 400 students at École Poirier have taken advantage of the program at some time or another.
“There’s no reason for any child to be out there in the cold without proper mitts, hats, scarves or even dry socks,” she said. “It’s a simple problem to address.”
Desveaux invites anyone who wants to volunteer for the program or who wishes to get more information on her initiative to write her a note at gdesvereaux@SD62.bc.ca.