Winston Churchill hosts Ready, Set, Go! Lethbridge back to school fair

By Garrett Simmons

Communications Officer

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Community partners came together Wednesday morning for the annual Ready, Set, Go!, Lethbridge back to school fair.

Winston Churchill High School hosted approximately 1,200 local students, who received assistance selecting new backpacks, shoes and a wide variety of other school supplies.

Lethbridge School District No. 51 staff were front and centre throughout the event, to help youngsters and their families through the many booths set up inside the school, designed to give each student exactly what they need to prepare for the 2018/2019 school year.

Deeanna Presley-Roberts, co-ordinator of the District’s Making Connections team, said the event simply could not function without the support of a number of local businesses and organizations.

The Lethbridge Kinsmen club played an integral role this year, as the group raised $28,000 to help outfit students with new pairs of shoes.

“They reached out to us in 2014 and since then, we’ve been the shoes guys,” said Kinsmen club member Matthew Robinson, who spoke about how the club got involved. “It’s something our club takes a heck of a lot of pride in.”

The Kinsmen club hosts a Mardi Gras fundraiser each year, as those funds go directly to shoe purchases for Ready, Set, Go!

“Our motto is Serving the Community’s Greatest Need,” said Robinson, who added the club has put a focus on supporting youth-based initiatives. “This event fits that to a T.”

Working with Lethbridge’s Shoe Warehouse location, the back to school fair provided 450 pairs of shoes, along with 900 gift cards.

“It’s amazing to have over 1,200 kids come out and get shoes,” said Robinson. “It lights up your life actually.”

Chris Pituello, district sales manager for Shoe Warehouse, added this is the second year the company has been involved in the event, and the first year local staff have volunteered.

“We’re here sizing, fitting and helping them find the right shoe,” he said.

Shoe Warehouse provided gift cards at a discount for the event, which allowed organizers to make more high-quality shoes accessible to more families.

“Part of our culture is to give back to the community, and it’s something we are looking to do more in the future,” said Pituello.

Daytona Homes also had a small army of staff members out on Wednesday, decked out in orange shirts, who volunteered throughout the event.

For the last 11 years, Daytona has operated a backpack program in the city, an initiative which has found a perfect fit with Ready, Set, Go!

It started as a small project, according to Daytona general manager Guy Bellis, who added it has grown by leaps and bounds as the need has increased.

“Lethbridge has the highest percentage of underprivileged kids in Alberta per capita, which is astounding to us,” he said.

Bellis added Daytona thought it was important to have staff participate in this year’s fair.

“Instead of just raising money, we wanted to be present this year and be a part of the event.”

Community is one of Daytona’s four core values, as Bellis added the new home builder’s goal is to not only give back to its customers, but the community at large as well. It is the 20th year in business for the company in Lethbridge, and Daytona’s 25th anniversary overall. With that in mind, the company is embarking on a 25 for 25 initiative, which will see Daytona locations get involved with numerous charitable events throughout the year.

Last year, Daytona raised over $42,000 for the backpack program, and hopes are high the company will beat that mark this year. It all started with a successful Whoop-Up Days pancake breakfast earlier this week, but Bellis added the majority of the funds raised come from the trades and suppliers.

“We couldn’t do this without them.”

Date posted: Aug. 23, 2018

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