North Bay’s Alliance Public School has been collecting items to send to students in Kugaaruk, Nunavut.
Rhondi Palcik, a fourth-grade teacher at Alliance, spearheaded the donation campaign, and so far, she estimates over 2,000 items have been collected.
“I began the collection last week,” Palcik said, “and we are wrapping it up this Friday” to prepare for shipping to the remote community of 800 people.
The collection has exceeded expectations, as Palcik was hoping to gather 600 items for the cause. “I never thought that this would be supported to the level it has been,” she said.
“The support from our families has been amazing.”
School supplies, breakfast items and hygiene products will be sent directly to the school in Kugaaruk where they will be distributed to students.
A North Bay company, which prefers to remain anonymous, has offered to pay the shipping expenses to deliver the donation to the fly-in only community.
Helping Our Northern Neighbours runs a Facebook group that connects families in remote Nunavut communities with people who care to donate to them.
The group formed in response to the high costs of goods in these communities—particularly the price of food—and Helping Our Northern Neighbours connects families in need with donors.
Palcik had donated a few boxes of items through the organization, and the idea struck to donate to a school in a remote community to provide items that might be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in their communities.
“Most of the communities have only one general store,” Palcik said, “and I’m sure you’re aware of how expensive items are to purchase.”
Indeed, common foodstuffs such as milk can run over $12, orange juice has hit $19, and a case of water can be over $100, Helping Our Northern Neighbours explain on their page.
“Food can be three or four times the price that they are available to us here,” Palcik said.
Palcik explained that she wanted to help because “places that are remote, do not have the capability to fundraise in this kind of way,” noting that in North Bay, there are food banks, and charitable organizations lending a hand up, but in a community of few people, those resources are limited.
“There are people who really need help,” she said, “and there are not that many people able to help them.”
As a teacher, “helping kids with back to school, to help provide them with what they need, really resonates with me.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.