Brad Thorlakson, President and CEO of Tolko, presents an $8,000 cheque for the Starfish Program to Kalamalka Rotary President Neil Perry and Kalamalka Starfish Program Director, Dr. Carmen Larsen. (Photo submitted)

Vernon Starfish Pack Program grows

Kalamalka Rotary Club initiative marks second anniversary and 93 backpacks

A Kalamalka Rotary program that seeks to feed children in need is growing.

The Starfish Pack Program has gone up to 93 backpacks in eight schools, up from 20 in one school during the April 2016 pilot.

“We couldn’t do it without community support,” said Dr. Carmen Larsen, program director. “We had overwhelming support for the program from students, parents and the community and as a result, we have been able to expand the program over the past two years to 93 backpacks in eight schools in Vernon, Lumby and Lavington including the Alternative Learning Program.”

The Starfish Pack Program provides a weekend rucksack filled with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, fresh fruit and snacks to elementary students in need.

Related: Starfish program packs helpful punch

Kalamalka Rotary met program partners Thursday to celebrate the second anniversary of the Starfish Pack Program in Vernon, where supporters were recognized for their outstanding contribution. The meeting also kicked off fundraising efforts for the coming school year. At the meeting, Tolko President Brad Thorlakson presented Kalamalka Rotary with an $8,000 cheque for the program.

Tolko was recognized as a champion for their significant contribution of more than 15 backpacks this year. Employees from Tolko also volunteer each week to pack, deliver and return backpacks for children in Lumby and Lavington.

“For us, we are very thankful. We wouldn’t be able to service that area without Tolko’s support,” Larsen said.

Thorlakson said it’s a cause they are happy to support.

“The easy part is paying the cheque,” Thorlakson said. “The real heroes are the teachers and volunteers.”

“We are pleased to be working with Kalamalka Rotary again this year and look forward to actively participating in this wonderful program,” added Tanya Wick, Tolko vice president of people and services and senior leader responsible for community investment.

Larsen said the Starfish Pack Program wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous community support and partners, including School District 22, Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, Save-On Foods, Sun FM and the Salvation Army.

“I’m a strong believer and advocate that children are our future,” said Gerran Thorhaug of Browns Socialhouse. “All children should be given a chance to succeed. I see the Starfish Pack Program as a tool for kids to be able to get a healthy meal and that chance to succeed.”

Joe Rogers, Vernon School District superintendent, agreed.

“We’re really pleased with our partnership with Rotary. This is a great community program,” Rogers said. “We all know kids who are hungry can’t learn. I don’t know if you can be interested in integers if you’re hungry.”

After reaching a target of about 140 backpacks, Larsen hopes to expand the project into Armstrong and support older students.

Backpacks are provided at a cost of $525 per child per school year, with $15 spent for six meals per backpack each week. Save-On Foods at the Village Green Mall provides the program with groceries each week at cost to maximize each donated dollar.

Donations go directly towards backpacks, with administrative costs covered through other Rotary initiatives. All forms of donations are accepted. For more information or to make a donation, visit starfishpack.com/vernon.


Parker Crook | Reporter

@MrParkerJCrook

Send Parker an email.
Like the The Morning Star on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vernon council candidate forum draws 400

Forum focuses on Greater Vernon Cultural Centre referendum and other hot election issue topics

Randall seeks North Okanagan director seat

Mike Randall squares off against Amanda Shatzko for Vernon Area Regional District C

Okanagan RCMP detachment hosts recruiting, exam sessions

If you’ve contemplated a career with RCMP, register for sessions at West Kelowna detachment

UPDATE: Vernon pair arrested in connection with 2017 homicide

Incident happened July 19 at Vernon apartment; man, woman arrested without incident

Resolution found in Vernon car surfing death case: defence

Byron James Walterhouse will appear to fix a date for disposition Oct. 18

VIDEO: First legal cannabis purchases as midnight strikes in eastern Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time

North Okanagan-Shuswap trustee hopefuls state stance on education

Retired teachers association holds forum for School District 83 board candidates

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

UPDATE: B.C. man who swam naked with sharks arrested

David Weaver, of Nelson, will face mischief and assault charges

Most Read