Mattawa, on November 25th head down to Annie’s Park on Main Street to help give the gift of Christmas to a local child. In the park, you’ll see a small school bus, and the goal is to fill that with toys and food for the Mattawa and Area Food Bank.
Pierre Ranger and members of the Let’s Remember Adam school bus safety campaign are organizing the event, which is entering its fourth year. The bus – courtesy of “the amazing people” at First Student Bus Lines in Mattawa – will be parked in the park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Last year, the bus was filled to the point “where we couldn’t walk down the aisles,” for the food and toys, Ranger said, and he hopes this year will bring similar results.
People are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods and new, unopened toys to Annie’s Park and put them on the bus. Everyone who donates will be entered into a draw to win one of four gift baskets and all donations stay local.
Word is Santa is making a special visit to the park as well and will be there from noon until 2. Kids and families are welcome to take a photo with the man himself, and of course, kids can tell him what they are wishing for this Christmas.
Ranger understands times are tough, but he’s still hopeful the bus will be filled. “The need is growing” for the food bank, which is sad to see.” He explained that Mattawa’s food bank is seeing more customers, “right now the list has about 250 families on it — and about 125 children.”
“So, we’re going to do our best to pack those shelves and make sure there are toys for those children,” Ranger said. He wants the kids to have a happy Christmas, and when he drives that bus from Annie’s Park to the Food Bank for delivery, he wants it filled to the brim.
“Times are tough for everybody, even people who work every day,” Ranger said. “So, we appreciate anything anybody can give.”
Cash donations are also welcome. Over the years, Ranger and Let’s Remember Adam have donated over $1,000 to the food bank, and thousands more worth of food and toys thanks to the community’s generosity.
Everything collected “goes to the Mattawa and Area Food Bank,” Ranger emphasized. “Nothing is for Let’s Remember Adam,” he added, although the campaign does help bring awareness to the event. Ranger’s brother, Adam, was killed by a vehicle that didn’t stop for his school bus. The tragedy inspired Ranger to dedicate himself to improving bus safety for kids, and to keeping Adam’s memory and story alive.
“He loved Christmas,” Ranger said of his brother. “He probably loved Halloween more, but like every child, he loved Christmas. We wanted to share his love for Christmas and make sure every child could have love on Christmas.”
“No child should go without at least one gift,” Ranger said. “And no child should go hungry. So we’re doing whatever we can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
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.