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Students helping students a labour of love

District Student Advisory Council members, such as Grade 11 CVOLC student Taylor Lloyd and Grade 9 George Bonner Middle School student Tom Mansey fill backpacks with essential items for Cowichan students in need. - Krista Siefken
District Student Advisory Council members, such as Grade 11 CVOLC student Taylor Lloyd and Grade 9 George Bonner Middle School student Tom Mansey fill backpacks with essential items for Cowichan students in need.
— image credit: Krista Siefken

As students scurry to sort and stuff four-dozen backpacks with everything from mittens to shampoo, Jamie Klassen oversees the proceedings like an old pro.

“I’ve been chair of DSAC (District Student Advisory Committee) for three years now,” says the Grade 12 Frances Kelsey student.

“This has become my labour of love.”

DSAC, which includes representatives from each of School District 79’s middle and secondary schools, donates backpacks filled with basic necessities to Cowichan youth in need.

The new backpacks, donated by MCW Consulting and Monk Office, were filled with toiletries, school supplies and warm clothing before handed over to representatives from Youth Outreach and the Community Options Society for distribution on Dec. 7.

“It’s nice to give back to our local communities,” said Klassen.

“And the project is successful every year, but this is probably one of our best years in terms of organization and spirit.”

Students started collecting items at their home schools in October, and Klassen said local sponsors, such as Island Pharmacy, Staples, Wal-Mart and Handmade Hugs, helped make this year’s haul of items one of the best yet.

This is DSAC’s fifth-annual backpack project.

“We’re just delighted that youth care about other youth, and that we’re able to provide backpacks and other items to various students who otherwise would not be able to have those things,” said Community Options Society’s Karen Freeman.

“We’re enthused we get to be a part of that — and it’s so appreciated on the other end, from the people who receive the backpacks.”

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