When kids come to school hungry, they can’t concentrate on their lessons. Breakfast programs funded by your donations to Adopt a School help hundreds of children start the day with a nutritious meal.

THE 2011 SCHOOL YEAR had barely begun at Admiral Seymour elementary when teacher Carrie Gelson, frustrated after a difficult day at work, wrote an impassioned open letter to Vancouver residents questioning whether anyone cared about her inner-city students who were coming to school with empty tummies and holes in their shoes.

On the day The Vancouver Sun published her letter, when she arrived at the East Vancouver school, “People had already dropped off thousands of dollars in cash by that time. They literally drove into work that morning bringing donations.”

So, we did what we do best. We told her story, introducing readers to her children. And because you do what you do best, you began donating money, clothing, school equipment and field trips. By the spring of 2013, the donations were close to $1 million to Adopt-a-School. The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund matched some of those donations for a total of $1.3 million.

Because of you, hundreds of Vancouver-area schoolchildren now have boots to wear in the rain, warm breakfasts and are experiencing things they would never otherwise have the opportunity to do.

The campaign has been supported by large corporations, private foundations, employee groups, law firms, real estate companies, labour organizations, students in other schools and many individuals.

Breakfast programs in dozens of schools — fully funded from donations to The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund for the AAS campaign — are a testament to readers’ generosity. In the long term, it means you have given these kids a better chance, through education, to escape the cycle of poverty in which they live.

We’ve received everything from a couple of five-figure donations committed for five and ten years to a $1 cheque signed in a shaky hand mailed from a reader in a care home.

“We realize there is no shortage of good causes that need help,” Vancouver Sun publisher Gordon Fisher said recently. “So we are particularly grateful for all those corporate and individual donors who have recognized the importance of ensuring that children should not be left hungry or ill-clothed at school or be denied access to such things as field trips or technology simply because of poverty.

“We do not see helping these children an act of charity but rather one of social justice. Surely every child should have a right not to be in school hungry, or without proper clothing for the weather.

“It is our hope that some day there will be no need for an Adopt-A-School campaign but until then we will continue to seek your support.”

For more than three decades, The Vancouver Sun has been using the power of its printing presses to tell the often heartbreaking stories of the children among us who need help, who are buried in poverty or suffering from disability and disadvantage, children who cannot help themselves.

You, our readers, have been with us every step of the way, not only reading those stories but responding to our call, opening your hearts and your wallets to make the lives of these children better.

That collective commitment — a magical melding of The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund and your generosity — has created an astonishing legacy.

That legacy is more than $11.5 million to the The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund, of which more than $7 million has been distributed to nearly 1,000 non-profit children’s charities around B.C.

The Children’s Fund isn’t about pointing fingers at parents falling painfully short of their responsibilities, or governments and organizations making unpopular choices in the face of rising demand and declining resources.

This is about a child who, without our collective attention and intervention, might never achieve his or her best, might never have his or her eyes opened to the opportunities and wonders of the world.

And so, as the season of giving is once again upon us, we are asking that you continue to place your trust in us, and put your contribution in our Adopt-a-School collection tray, so that this great legacy that we both started so many years ago is carried well into the future.

We have big plans, and we know you’ll be right here with us.