Chilliwack boot drive will give school kids leg up

Community and business effort, including Canadian Tire and Murray Honda, will assist 550 Chilliwack students

From left

From left

Kids in Chilliwack will be well equipped to handle the winter weather this year, no matter what their family’s financial situation may be.

Once again, several businesses have come together to support the Murray Honda’s Project Warmth/ Boots for Kids campaign. And this year, their efforts will allow 555 local students to keep their toes warm and dry.

Chilliwack’s superintendent of schools, Evelyn Novak, says the unique program is filling a desperate need for local students and their families.

This program is very special because it makes a very real and ‘in-time’ difference to our students and their families,” she said.  “Winter wear is a necessity in Chilliwack and it is costly, particularly to keep growing children properly attired through the winter. There are families who are not able to provide appropriate winter wear and so we are pleased that our community partners assist in this way.”

The district provides a list of needs, without names, to Murray Honda and their partners. The list includes details such as age, boot size, and gender. They provide the footwear to students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and recipients are at all schools across the district. Teachers and staff know the difficulties students face when they come to school ill-equipped to handle Chilliwack’s often wet and cold weather.

“This program allows students to walk to school or play outside at lunch with their friends, in comfort and warmth,” Novak says, rather than be cooped up inside, or worse, outside with frozen toes.

Justin Mallard says they are not just handing out winter boots this year, but boots that can potentially last through more than just the winter season.

“The first year we just did winter boots,” he said. “But with the climate being unpredictable, what we’ve done is, working with Canadian Tire, found more all-season shoes, the hiking shoes, hi-top shoes, shoes they can utilize the entire year.”

Snow boots may only get used a few times a year, but for some kids rubber boots are a year-round necessity. So, they spent about a month sourcing out what types of boots to buy. They also partnered with Payless Shoe Source for a diversity in boots, to help fill the need.

But as much as this is a corporate project, it’s also a community one. The boots are being provided at cost, at an average of $35 a student. And there are many ways the public can pitch in to help the cause.

Donations can be dropped off at, or called in to, Murray Honda, or added to your Canadian Tire purchase. Other supporters this year so far include Glamour Secrets, Studio B Yoga and the Art of Driving.

Giving back to the community has become a regular theme for Murray Honda over the past several years. The last time they gave boots to students was in 2014, and last winter they gave out more than 600 winter coats. Two years before that, they gave out 400 coats. In addition to Project Warmth, they also spearhead a campaign each year to outfit 1,000 local students with school supplies and backpacks in September.

Mallard said the campaigns’ successes are because of the people in Chilliwack.

“Every single year, the generosity in this town is incredible,” he said.

This week, they began the incredible task of sorting through the boots at Canadian Tire. Soon, the students will have those boots on their feet.

To learn how you can help, phone Murray Honda at 604-792-2724.