Noelle’s Gift continues to give

Noelle's Gift cheque presentation at Tecumseh Public School in Chatham on November 5, 2019 (Photo by Allanah Wills)

Thousands of students across Chatham-Kent will have access to healthy food options thanks in part to a sizeable donation.

On Tuesday afternoon at Tecumseh Public School, Noelle’s Gift Foundation presented a $16,000 cheque to the Chatham-Kent Student Nutrition Program.

The foundation was created in memory of Noelle Paquette, a 27-year-old  kindergarten teacher who was murdered in Sarnia on New Year’s Day 2013. Since then, Paquette’s family has honoured her legacy by providing daily necessities to disadvantaged students and families in the Lambton-Kent region.

The money is raised in a variety of fundraising activities hosted by Noelle’s Gift throughout the year. The donation to the Chatham-Kent Student Nutrition Program will 100 per cent go towards purchasing food for both grade school and high school students in all three school boards across the municipality.

Jodi Mandeno, a Noelle’s Gift committee member and a Grade 1 teacher at Tecumseh Public School, said she sees first hand the need for having food available to students in schools.

“As a teacher, we see that some kids go hungry or if they need an extra little snack throughout in order to learn,” she said. “I have kids that access the snack bucket basically all day if they need a little extra bit of food.”

The Chatham-Kent Student Nutrition Program runs a number of different initiatives including Fresh to Your Desk, a program that provides students with fresh fruit and vegetables year-round.

“When kids are coming to school hungry each day, they’re not able to focus. When they’re not focusing then there are other issues that you have to deal with,” said Allan Davies, Chatham-Kent student nutrition coordinator.

Noelle’s Gift also recently presented the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and Lambton Kent District School Board with a cheque for $64,000 to purchase eyeglasses, clothing, medicine and medical equipment for the 2019-2020 school year.