December 8, 2011

‘Mompreneurs’ step up to help inner city students

'Mompreneurs' (from left) Maria Livingstone, Emilie Sarkissian, Lisa Pozin, Annette Yang and Suzane Bertani are among a dozen donating a portion of their sales to The Sun's Adopt-a-School program. Photograph by: ', PNG

It might have been the very specific request from a teacher for a boy’s winter coat, in size 8, that tipped the scales for Suzanne Bertani, a Port Moody mom and business owner.

Bertani was already familiar with a letter written by Vancouver school teacher Carrie Gelson in which she eloquently advocated for the children at her inner-city school, Admiral Seymour elementary.

In that letter, Gelson compellingly detailed the needs of her students. “Nobody ever asks me what I need,” she continued, before going on to itemize her poignant wish list: Recess snacks for the kids who missed breakfast. Socks that fit. Safe and affordable housing. Boys’ shoes, in size 3 or 4.

Moved by Gelson’s words, Bertani had been searching for a way to contribute when she read about The Sun’s Adopt-a-School program, and some of the requests from teachers. She also realized that The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund would match every dollar raised.

And so, about a week ago, Bertani put a call out to businesses in her network, most of them online only but based in Metro Vancouver, and all of them founded by “mompreneurs.” The results were immediate: 12 businesses comprising the newly formed Making Magic Fund, many of them competitors, all pledged to donate between 10 and 15 per cent of their sales, until Dec. 11, to the Adopt-a-School program.

“You have a voice when you have a business,” said Bertani, a mother of four and former ICBC systems analyst who now owns Green Planet Parties, an online green party supplies business. “If you’re not giving something back, you’re missing something, especially at Christmas.”

Bertani would love to see the 12 Making Magic Fund businesses - Apricot CulotteBumblebee Toysdandelion KIDSFill Your OwnGiving GiftsGreen Planet PartiesKippo KidsMaxwell DesignsMy Little Green ShopOnyx ContainersPuddlegear and Today I Ate a Rainbow - raise $2,000 for Adopt-a-School.

Regardless of the outcome, the group has found its efforts so personally gratifying that they are discussing continuing their fundraising efforts.

“People just want to help,” Bertani said. “Isn’t it great that we can all do this together and make a difference?”

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