Back-to-school shopping is on the to-do list of most families with school-age kids. But for the Tenyenhuis family of Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, seeking school supplies to share with people in need has been an annual August tradition since 2009.
It started when now 10-year-old Isaac Tenyenhuis saw an ad for the Snacks and Sneakers campaign by Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold while reading the newspaper with his mom, Joanne. When she explained the drive to collect funds so every child could have healthy snacks and running shoes for school, Isaac said, “I felt like I needed to step up and help.”
That first year, Isaac pulled his 1-year-old brother, Luke, in a wagon through the neighborhood with an empty jar to collect cash donations. Six years later, donations still come from their door-to-door campaign as well as collections at their dad, Steven’s, work, other local businesses, the Rotary club, and connections at church. To date, said Joanne, the boys have collected more than $5,000 and a large cube truck worth of backpacks, lunch-box snacks, notebooks, and other supplies for the program. Luke, now 6, said this year he wants to collect enough supplies to fill a bus. “Every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger because we ask more people and talk in more places,” said Isaac.
Betty-Lou Souter, CEO of Community Care, calls Isaac and Luke ambassadors for the campaign, which she expects to support 1,500 students this year. “They are a great team,” Souter said on a local radio broadcast to kick off this year’s drive. “When you have young people that have such a strong value system instilled in them when they’re their age, then our community is in a really great position for the future.”