TRURO- It's hard to imagine children going to school hungry. Or some families who are not able to afford care for their child with special needs.
© BAILLIE SAUNDERS - SPECIAL TO THE TRURO DAILY NEWS
Heidi Heukshorst shows a Truro Bearcats jersey on display at the local Atlantic Superstore. The jersey was donated as part of a silent auction being held by the President's Choice Children's Charity program, which aids breakfast programs and children with special needs.
This is a reality Heidi Heukshorst wants to discard with the help of the President's Choice Children's Charity (PCCC) program.
"We do the Brighter Breakfast program, which is pretty near and dear to us," said Heukshorst, an employee of the Truro Atlantic Superstore and PCCC volunteer.
"We do that aspect, as well as individual help such as raising money for a seeing-eye dog."
Heukshorst said all proceeds return to the local community to help with breakfast programs in schools and families with children with special needs.
"We can never raise enough because the more money we raise the more kids we can help."
The charity has helped six families in the local area in the past few years with purchasing a seeing-eye dog, a backyard safety fence for one family with an autistic child, a bath tub lift for another, and supported the purchase of three wheelchair accessible vans.
The charity is currently holding a silent auction on a jersey donated by the Truro Bearcats.
"The Bearcats are great. They do so much for the community," said Heukshorst. "It's a former player's jersey and the whole team signed it."
The current going bid for the jersey is $75. Bidding closes for the jersey on Saturday at 10 p.m.
The program is also selling colourful round icons for $2 that can be purchased at the checkout.
Heukshorst said it's a real team effort.
"I'm not the only one, we all get excited. It's an unreal feeling," she said. "It truly is a team effort because I could never pull this off alone."
The store was sent more than 5,000 icons to sell. They are now improvising by creating homemade ones to keep the fundraiser going.
"We're now making our own," said Heukshorst. She has hung them in the storefront window for everyone to see.
"In the last two weeks we've raised over $9,500. We're pushing for 10 grand."
Heukshorst said there is no set goal for the fundraising, but every bit counts.
"It's helping with basic kid's needs. It's helping purchase high-priced items that some families could not afford."
The charity holds fundraisers throughout the year, with two main campaigns in the spring and fall. However, Heukshorst said it's hard to keep up with the needs word doesn't spread about the charity.
"It's a charity that all superstores run and all the money raised goes to the local community."
She said educating the public about the program and how people can apply is crucial.
"It's very basic requirements so I'm sure a lot of people would qualify," she said.
Each year is different from the previous year, said Heukshorst.
"We like to change it up each year. Last year our grocery manager had an extremely long ponytail, which he donated to kid's with cancer and raised $3,000,."
Families can apply for grants and funding to help their children with special needs by filling out an online application at http://www.presidentschoice.ca/en_CA/community/pccc.html.
Heukshorst said word of mouth is the key ingredient in sharing information about the program's benefits.
"Someone might not need it but their neighbour, niece or nephew might," she said.
"We've met the families and have seen the relief on their faces when they find out they are receiving the grants."
JUST THE FACTS
- In 2012, $3,725,000 was donated to the Breakfast for Learning program for school breakfast programs across Canada.
In 2012, more than $9,000,000 was granted to families across Canada with children of special needs (one million in the Atlantic provinces).
- More than 2,000 nutrition programs were supported in 2012-2013 across Canada.
- In 2012, more than 250 children accepted specialized equipment including wheelchairs, lifts etc.