Mount Cheam stocks shelves for the needy

Mount Cheam Christian School's annual Christmas food drive has raised over 3.400 food items for Ruth and Naomi's Mission.

Grade 11 Mt. Cheam Christian school students (from left) Willemien Biemond

They had a goal of 3,000, but are well on their way to surpassing 4,000.

For three years, the leadership class at Mount Cheam Christian School has organized a week long Christmas Food Drive for Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, with students challenging their peers to raise the most canned food items possible.

On Wednesday afternoon, early estimates had the school at more than 3,400 food items – the most the school has raised to date.

“And we’ve still got [uncounted] food all over the school,” said teacher Ron Neels. “We’re going to fly pass 4,000 guaranteed.”

Impressive given the school is in the midst of a major $4 million fundraising campaign for a new building, and that it just came off a $19,000 fundraising drive for BC Children’s Hospital.

“It’s a real part of the whole school culture,” said Neels. “It’s important for us to show students how they can help, to put our words into action. We’re helping the less fortunate, not in Africa, not in India, but right here in our own community. We’re helping people in our own backyard.”

The message has hit home with the student body.

While many likely raided their parents’ pantries, some took it upon themselves – using their own money – to acquire the foods.

Tuesday evening Neels took eight students, who had pooled their money together, to the grocery store. In a half an hour, they filled three shopping carts containing 660 food items worth over $400.

The energy has been contagious.

“It’s a rush – they’re on a high,” said Neels.

“As a Christian school, obviously our reasoning is love your neighbour. To watch [these students] come back so successful is very rewarding. It’s a really, really satisfying and gratifying feeling.”

The school will be handing over the collected items to Ruth and Naomi’s on Friday.