For the past three years, St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in East Kildonan has helped serve up free breakfasts at the elementary school next door.
Now the students of Sherwood School are giving back.
Sherwood principal Theresa Hunt says Grades 4 and 5 kids in the school’s student leadership program wanted to show their appreciation for the breakfast program — by helping the church help homeless people.
The students will be knitting hats, collecting mittens and toques, and preparing food for the Gifts of Grace Street Mission program operated by St. Saviour’s.
Hunt says it’s a reflection of the strong bond connecting Sherwood School to two nearby churches — St. Saviour’s and Crosspoint Community Church.
Both churches provide volunteers and help pay for the breakfast program, which runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Sherwood.
Hunt believes the program has been tremendous for community building.
"It’s been great," she says. "The kids love it. They love the volunteers, and they’re always happy to see them."
Rev. Simon Blaikie of St. Saviour’s says his church and Crosspoint saw a potential need in the community — "it’s not a particularly affluent neighbourhood" – and pitched the breakfast proposal to Sherwood three years ago.
"There was a lot of people in both congregations who wanted to do this, who felt called to do this," he says. "Theresa Hunt thought it was a great idea and we just went from there."
Sherwood is a relatively small school, with slightly more than 100 kids enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 5.
Hunt says students in the school’s knitting club are knitting hats for St. Saviour’s street mission, and about three dozen Grades 4 and 5 students will head to the church one afternoon to make sandwiches for the homeless.
She estimates that about 30 Sherwood students regularly participate in the breakfast program.
Blaikie says a grant from the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba this year will pay for part of the food costs, which run about $2,500 annually.
Two of the volunteers — Donna de Ridder of St. Saviour’s and Robert Doepker of Crosspoint Community Church — are retirees who enjoy the time spent with the students.
"I have two granddaughters but unfortunately they live in Calgary," de Ridder says, "so it’s nice to be with the kids, and to know they’re fed and start the day right."
Doepker says "it takes a while, but you get to know the kids. They’re great. We joke around with them."
The volunteers were in turn described as "fun", "friendly" and "kind" by two Sherwood Grade 5 students enjoying the morning’s offering of cereal, toast, yogurt, fruit and juice.
Carla Esporlas also likes starting the day with a healthy meal, while Ayla Doerksen enjoys hanging out with friends — while getting a good breakfast.
"I love it," she says. "Sometimes I’m rushed out of the house and I can’t get breakfast. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we get breakfast here, so it really helps."