Recent Articles in ‘Stories’

The Beedie Group attends a breakfast with students at Douglas Road elementary in Burnaby

Beedie dishes out for Burnaby school kids

The measure of how determined people are to make the world a better place can be defined by what they are prepared to give up. So when teachers at Burnaby’s Douglas Road elementary give up their staff room each morning so children coming to school hungry can sit there while they serve them breakfast, it’s […]

Tracey McVicar and a group of women from the business and financial community have stepped in to pick up the tab for the emergency breakfast program at Edmonds Community School.

Burnaby school breakfast program gets boost from group of businesswomen

By Gerry Bellett In 2011, The Vancouver Sun’s Children’s Fund sent $11,000 to Edmonds Community School to pay for breakfasts for the 45 children coming to school hungry every day. “We’ve just about used up that money,” Mischa Greenwood, the school’s community coordinator, said earlier this week. The Burnaby school had only asked for $8,000 […]


Shelley Fralic: Feeding hungry kids, thanks to Sun readers

By Shelley Fralic Who knew, three years later, that once Vancouver Sun readers began hearing some of those heartbreaking stories, that they would so unselfishly step forward and open both their wallets and their hearts. Maybe teacher Carrie Gelson knew, when she wrote an open letter to Vancouverites in the fall of 2011, frustrated and […]

Admiral Seymour Elementary School’s Carrie Gelson was the teacher who kick-started the Adopt-a-School program with her plea to help feed the hungry kids in her classroom. She is pictured with students in her Grade 3/4 class. Photo: Jenelle Schneider/Vancouver Sun

Child poverty drives Adopt-a-School campaign

By Gerry Bellett In the past three years The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School campaign has distributed $1.4 million to dozens of schools in Metro Vancouver and other parts of the province. The money has been used to alleviate hunger and provide clothing to children arriving at school without a proper breakfast or a warm jacket. It has […]


You don’t have to be rich to be giving

By DAPHNE BRAMHAM Vancouver Sun It is often easier to be blinkered to the social problems that are so clearly evident on the streets of Vancouver than have to think on what can be done about homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. If governments can’t seem to heal those problems, what can one person do to […]


International company to donate 85 laptops to 17 needy Metro Vancouver schools

By GERRY BELLETT VIO Corp is an international communications company — virtually unknown in Vancouver — that does all its business in the Middle East. But on Friday, the Vancouver-based company unveiled plans to donate 85 laptop computers to 17 of Metro Vancouver’s most needy schools. Each school will receive four computers from its Vision […]


Strathcona principal gets her Christmas wish

#vansunkids By GERRY BELLETT Strathcona Elementary principal Margaret Jorgensen has dreamt for years of finding the means to set up a computer-assisted literacy program at her Downtown Eastside school where many students living in extreme poverty struggle to read. Her friend Ron Suzuki, who runs the adjacent Strathcona Community Centre, said such a program would […]

Tanya Kozak

Adopt-a-School: Teachers will go it alone to pay for breakfast program if necessary #vansunkids

BY GERRY BELLETT The hunger game was manageable when Tanya Kozak was hired three years ago as a child-care worker at Surrey’s David Brankin Elementary. “There wasn’t so much of it back then,” said Kozak. But the next year it suddenly got worse, and Kozak started coming in early to make oatmeal for 10 to […]

Up to 70 children are fed a hot breakfast at Twelfth Avenue elementary school in Burnaby every morning. Teacher Angela Collins-Chen serves up food while principal Marilyn Kwok makes breakfast.
Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG Files , Vancouver Sun

Community struggles to meet children’s needs

  #vansunkids By DAPHNE BRAMHAM It’s a scramble at Burnaby’s Twelfth Avenue Elementary School to make sure that the kids have even their most basic needs met – whether it is enough food or proper clothes. The school, near the boundary with New Westminster, has a very mixed group of families. There are lots of […]

Amrithma Dhillon, left, volunteers to serve students at Mitchell elementary in Richmond. The school would like to continue their lunch and breakfast program and to buy a dishwasher. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG , Vancouver Sun

Breakfast needed more than ever: Hungry pupils can’t learn #vansunkids

  BY GERRY BELLETT It was in September two years ago that Mitchell elementary principal Madhuri Pendharkar realized something had to be done about the number of children coming to school hungry or without food to see them through the day. “We had a lot of kids that needed feeding,” said Pendharkar. “It was two-fold: […]

Shakayla Bowe and Kayci, with youth worker Carley Romas, at Charles Tupper Secondary’s program for young moms in Vancouver. Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost , Vancouver Sun

Adopt-a-School: Providing for young moms — and babies #vansunkids

BY GERRY BELLETT Kayci is 16 weeks old and her mother Shakayla Bowe is 16 years old — a symmetry of weeks and years that will never come again. And if those numbers suggest this is a child looking after a baby, the ready smile on the baby’s face shows that this is a child […]

rances Stone at home with her three children Austin, age 12 ( C ) , Aidan, age 7 ( R ) and Maya, age 6 ( L ), Burnaby,  Gerry Kahrmann  /  PNG)

The long climb out of poverty

BY DAPHNE BRAMHAM This Christmas is a special one for Frances Stone and her three children. This year, they didn’t have to rely on charity. “I bought all my children Christmas gifts. I bought all of them myself,” says the 38-year-old Burnaby mom. “That’s a huge thing for me. It’s the first year that I’ve […]

Nezhat Khosrowshahi (second from right) donated money for scholarships for students at CABE in Coquitlam wishing to go to community college. Pictured clockwise from left to right: Alaska Petrie with Rosalie Petrie, 17 months, Sofia Hernandez with Santiago Hernandez, 19 months, and Alex Johnstone with Milo Johnstone-Lloyd, 17 months. (Photo: Jason Payne/PNG)

Adopt-a-School: Financial boost helps teen moms excel in school #vansunkids

BY GERRY BELLETT Even in an ideal world of well-heeled and supportive parents, post-secondary education remains a struggle for many students when the most they have to worry about is getting assignments in on time. How much more of a struggle then for 18-year-old Sofia Hernandez? She’s a teenage mother living on social assistance of […]


Strathcona Elementary families enjoy Metro Theatre’s pantomime #vansunkids

BY GERRY BELLETT If you‘ve never seen one before, nothing can prepare you for a good old-fashioned English pantomime. So when about 80 children and parents from Strathcona Elementary school in the Downtown Eastside entered Metro Theatre, Saturday night, to see their first panto — Jack and the Beanstalk — Catherine Morrison thought it advisable […]

Optometrist Dr. Lloyd Mah examines four-year-old Kai Yao at his Coquitlam office Wednesday. Mah contacted The Sun about reaching out to children in need of eye exams and glasses.
Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, PNG , Vancouver Sun

B.C. optometrists focus on kids

  Nearly 2,900 kindergarten students will receive free eye exams – and glasses, if needed #vansunkids BY DAPHNE BRAMHAM You don’t need scientific research to figure out that if you can’t see properly, it makes learning all the more difficult. But what may be surprising is that some studies suggest as many as 60 per […]

Adrienne Beaton, Sir Charles Tupper secondary youth and family worker, and school counsellor Joseph Lee in front of 'Charlie's Closet at the Vancouver school. The pair are seeking cash donations to fund Charlie's Closet, a sort of in-school clothing store for impoverished kids.
Photograph by: Jason Payne , Vancouver Sun

Adopt-a-School: A closet for students who don’t have one at home #vansunkids

BY GERRY BELLETT There are some students attending Vancouver’s Sir Charles Tupper Secondary who own their own cars. And there are some who own only the clothes on their backs. The gulf that exists between those two groups needs no exploring. “Kids with cars? Yes. I remember seeing one kid broken down who didn’t know […]


Telus donating $1 for every social media mention of #vansunkids

Every time you use the social media hashtag #vansunkids, you’ll be helping impoverished children in your community. Telus is donating $1 to The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Adopt-a-School campaign for every mention of the campaign tagged with the #vansunkids hashtag, up to a limit of $20,000. Telus has been a supporter of our Adopt-a-School program […]

Christine Wilcox (left) and Christine Casselman oversee tutors Wilson Adhikari (right) and Caroline Nguyen during an after-school tutoring program at Queen Eliazbeth High School in Surrey, BC, November, 28, 2013. It is an initiative to help at risk students achieve academic success and keep them away from gang involvement.
Photograph by: RICHARD LAM , PNG

Surrey school’s peer tutoring program isn’t just about grades

  By GERRY BELLETT Twenty-three murders so far this year and the soul-searching in Surrey has begun. Officially it started Nov. 19 (after the 22nd murder) when Mayor Dianne Watts and RCMP Supt. Bill Fordy promised a task force would be struck to find some way to reduce the bloodletting. Gangs and the drug trade […]

Everybody in the community has to be involved in eliminating poverty, says Michael McAfee, who heads the Promise Neighborhoods Institute in Oakland, Calif.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG , Vancouver Sun

A coordinated attack on poverty

From cradle to career: Promise Neighborhoods program offers ‘big leadership’ and ‘big dollars’ By DAPHNE BRAMHAM It’s a radical idea: Breaking the poverty cycle is simple. That’s what Michael McAfee is helping to prove as director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute , where he works with more than 60 of the most distressed communities in […]

Admiral Seymour elementary teacher Andrea Wilks, right, is joined by former MLA Joan McIntyre, who donated to The Vancouver Sun's Adopt-A-School campaign, which in turn helped pay for this sensory room at the school. The room will be used for children with emotional problems who cause disturbances in class and need help to calm down.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG , Vancouver Sun

Helping children with sensory overload

Donations create a place for students to calm down when the world gets too hectic   By GERRY BELLETT In late October the painters were finishing off the walls inside Admiral Seymour elementary’s new sensory centre, putting it out of commission, which was a pity because there was a young boy that morning whose nerves […]


Donors with hearts of gold help Richmond’s needy children

Food programs get 10-year commitment By DAPHNE BRAMHAM It is the longest commitment Adopt-a-School has ever received – $100,000 for food programs over 10 years. Not only are the Hearts of Gold Foundation and Centro Dental Group donating $10,000 a year to help feed hungry schoolchildren in Richmond, they’re setting up a pilot project that […]

Harrison Lee

It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, the village needs to feed the children #vansunkidsfund

BY SHELLEY FRALIC Whose fault is it that a kindergartner arrives for school every morning without having had breakfast and, sometimes, without having eaten dinner the night before? Who’s to blame when an elementary student comes to class lacking a warm coat, winter boots, gloves or even socks, and then opens a tattered backpack to […]


Simon Chang delivers hope, inspiration to Britannia Secondary School

By GILLIAN SHAW Simon Chang’s life as an internationally renowned fashion designer is far removed from the reality of life for students at Vancouver’s Britannia Secondary School. But Chang, who grew up the youngest of four children living with his family on Keefer Street in Chinatown, once walked the halls of the east-side school as […]


B.C.’s child-poverty rate is a travesty

By Daphne Bramham It’s a shameful and longstanding distinction that a greater percentage of B.C. children live in poverty than anywhere else in Canada, and 2011 was no exception. You can argue over which Statistics Canada data to use – low-income after tax or before tax, market basket measure, or the deprivation index. But it […]


Coquitlam’s Ecole Maillard needs help with breakfast, lunch and after-school food #vansunkidsfund

By Gerry Bellett In May Coquitlam’s Ecole Maillard Middle School took a run at feeding its hungry children. “We realized we needed to,” said vice principal Kathryn Jung whose school tops the vulnerably index in the Coquitlam school district with 10 per cent of its 409 students being deemed vulnerable as a consequence of poverty. […]


Richmond school needs help to supply lunches #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett Vice-principal Tanya Major isn’t asking for much – $2,000 from The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign – perhaps the most modest request this year’s campaign has received. Her school, William Bridge elementary, located at the end of a quiet street near Number 3 Road and Williams in Richmond, isn’t overwhelmed with the sort […]

handicapped and hungry

Adopt-a-School: Disabled and hungry

By Gerry Bellett To see what happens when education budget cuts collide with poverty you need look no further than Koryn Heisler’s senior life skills class at John Oliver secondary school in east Vancouver. Her class is made up of a 12 ministry-designated severely handicapped students — Grades 8 to 10 — a number of […]

mom to mom

Wanted: A few more good women: Mentors help low-income families break poverty cycle

By Shelley Fralic In the fall of 2011, when The Sun started writing about Metro Vancouver schoolchildren going without breakfast, lunch or even dinner, without clean, warm clothing, and without school supplies or the basic necessities that so many of us take for granted, we knew intuitively that we were just scratching the surface of […]

Nora Tham (left) and Jane Milina-Dunn prepare lunches at Richmond’s William Bridge Elementary school. Photo by Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun

Hundreds, if not thousands, of B.C. kids go to school hungry

By Daphne Bramham Forty children come to Richmond’s William Bridge Elementary hungry every day and bring nothing for lunch. By cobbling together donations from people and businesses, the staff has so far been able to provide bagels, cream cheese, jam and yogurt. It’s a similar story at 13 other Richmond elementary and high schools. Eight […]

champlain heights breakfast

Adopt-a-School 2013 campaign launch

By Gerry Bellett This time two years ago The Vancouver Sun launched our first Adopt-A-School campaign after discovering some inner-city schools were struggling against a tide of poverty and privation that was overwhelming teachers and principals. Want in the form of hungry children arriving at school in worn-out clothing and footwear, listless from hunger or […]

Harrison Lee

In the world of yo-yo, Harrison Lee is a hurricane

By Shelley Fralic You might remember the Fosbury Flop. And who can forget the Moonwalk. Or the Beckham Bend. And now we have the Harrison Hurricane. These are what are known as signature moves, usually invented by someone who becomes famous for having invented it. Dick Fosbury, for instance, was a high jumper who went […]

Telus CEO Darren Entwistle

Telus giving close to $9 million to Lower Mainland charities this year

By Gerry Bellett Lower Mainland charitable and social organizations have received $8.8 million this year in Telus corporate donations, Telus president and CEO Darren Entwistle announced Wednesday. “We want to get a social return from charitable giving and our 11 community boards (across Canada) have contributed more than $40 million since 2005 and have supported […]

$75,000 donation feeds dozens of hungry children each morning at Champlain Heights

The small boy came to say thank you, but in the way that children have, he didn’t really need to rely on words. For what seemed an age, he just stood in the hallway of Champlain Heights Community School and looked into the eyes of Nezhat Khosrowshahi, who – after he appeared shyly in front of her […]