Team pitches in for backpack miracle

Barry Coulter

With the help of a Cranbrook PeeWee hockey team, and the enthusiasm and generosity of several local businesses, a Christmas miracle has reached new heights this year.

Every Christmas for the past several years, Dawn Virostek had put together backpacks with food for kids who had taken part in School District 5’s breakfast and lunch program. Virostek loved the programs, but began to wonder how the kids fared during Christmas and Easter breaks.

Thus, she started putting together a few backpacks with food, to send home with kids to make sure they had breakfast and lunch for each day they were home.

The backpack project started out with six backpacks.

“Geat start,” Virostek told the Townsman, “but I knew six bags weren’t going to cut it. The next year I reached out to some friends and we were able to do 17 — and the schools were thrilled.”

But then, Virostek spoke to the Salvation Army, which is responsible for the school meals for about 150 students every day. And 17 backpacks struck her as again too few.

Enter the Cranbrook PeeWee Kings — a hockey team that Virostek manages. When she asked them for help, the players responded with enthusiasm and excitement, donating their own money and jumping on board to help assemble 25 backpacks.

But it didn’t stop there. The Kings’ head coach reached out to some people he knew — in particular North Star GM, and they donated $1,000 towards the project. And others pitched in. The Choice donated 20 backpacks, and the Salvation Army brought in another 40 backpacks from Fernie. And Save-On Foods worked with the volunteers’ budget and helped make things happen, so as of this week, the team had put together 100 backpacks filled with filled with breakfast and lunch for the entire Christmas break.

Also, Domino’s contributed 100 pizzas towards the cause.

The Kings gave their time to unpack food and assemble the backpacks.

“I don’t have words other than ‘thank you from the bottom of my humbled heart to every single person and business that made this happen,’” Virostek said.

And there’s more: The PeeWee Kings will be entering in a hockey challenge called the Good Deeds Cup, a project of Chevrolet Canada. To compete for the Cup, the team creates and submits a one-minute YouTube video that shows the good did the team did. If the team is chosen for the top 10, and then overall to win, the Kings would be granted $100,000 to give back to a charity of their choice.

“That would be the most amazing win we could have this season,” Virostek said.

See more information on the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup at www.chevrolet.ca/hockey/good-deeds-cup.

Virostek said she hoped the story would inspire readers to help even one just person, if they can.

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