A small group has been making a big effort to lend a helping hand to local families in need, including overseeing a student lunch giveaway for students of all three schools in Rankin Inlet.
Kelly Clark-Lindell – a member of the group, along with Belinda Udjuk, Amanda Eecherk, Tara Clements and Trevor Nordmon – said the group receives strong support in its efforts from the hamlet’s recreation crew.
She said April Wadland originally started a food hamper project about six weeks ago by gathering donations in the community for families in need.
“I volunteered to help out with that and, from that point on, we continued doing it once a week with funding support from Agnico Eagle Mines and the hamlet,” said Lindell, “so now we’re giving out 30 hampers a week to families in need (the family names come from the RCMP’s Christmas hamper list or a list from the local food bank) filled with cleaning supplies and a gift card to a local store for food purchases.
“While we were doing the hampers, we saw the need to also try and get food to the kids out of school, so we conducted a trial run on the 24th to give out big lunches to any kid attending any of our three schools in Rankin.
“We gave out 180 lunch bags in total. It was scheduled to run from 10-11 a.m., but we ran out at 10:55 and there were probably about 10 more kids who came after that, so we’re now going to shoot for 200 and, starting this week, we’re going to do it twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We have enough funding available to cover the initiative for at least six weeks and, if it’s still needed at that point, we’ll see what may be available to help us continue on with it.”
Lindell said funding for the first two months of the lunch initiative came from the Department of Health’s Community Wellness program, which gave $15,000 of the money usually sent to the schools for their breakfast and/or snack programs to the hamlet to be used in a food-specific initiative.
She said the funds are normally sent to the local district education authority, which then disperses it among the Rankin schools.
“Not all of the volunteers within the group are teachers and they’re being supported by their supervisors to take time out of their day to organize and help out with this initiative, so we’re very thankful to them for that, as well.
“I was given an anonymous donation of $1,000 to be used for the pizza movement with the Slapshot Canteen in Rankin right now, so, also on the 24th, we randomly inserted 25 gift certificates in the lunch bags that people could use to purchase a large pepperoni pizza for their family.
“That was pretty awesome. In fact, the whole pizza thing going on in Rankin right now is very, very cool.
“We don’t know who received the certificates, but we do know they were probably pretty excited to find them and it also helps support a local business, so I was pretty proud and excited about it – just as I’m super proud of the ladies in our group volunteering to do these different initiatives that do help make a difference in our community.”