CHEK Upside: High school sandbox project spreads joy to Greater Victoria community

WatchAfter their tiny home group project came to a halt, Saanich trades teacher Brandon Heyer developed a pandemic-proof plan to keep his students busy while giving to food banks and putting smiles on children's faces.

Saanich School District trades teacher Brandon Heyer had to cut short his class’ tiny home group project due to COVID-19.

But just over a month ago, Heyer had a pandemic-proof plan to keep his students busy while also giving back to the community.

“Started thinking, well, there’s a lot of families right now who have kids at home that normally would be at daycare or elementary school who could really use something to do so sandboxes seemed great,” said Heyer.

Heyer dropped off materials and tools to his students while keeping a safe social distance. Grade 11 student Hayden Lesley was eager to get to work.

“I really liked it. It was a fun little project that got us going after we were a little stagnant for a little bit. But it put us back into a little bit of a routine so that was good,” said Lesley, who’s aiming for his Red Seal certificate in carpentry.

The week-long project produced eight sandboxes that required little correction from the experienced Heyer. Sandboxes can fetch hundreds of dollars in stores, but the class decided to give them away to the public via random draw.

“We had over four hundred people sign up to receive one of the sandboxes,” said Heyer.

Deliveries for the eight lucky winners kicked off this week and in return, Heyer and his students requested the sandbox winners donate to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank. As the project has come to an end, Heyer said his students exceeded his expectations.

“It’s not easy to be thrown into this situation for a lot of these students especially with half of them being in Grade Twelve and it’s their senior year, but they’ve really responded,” said Heyer.

The students keep busy, food banks receive much-needed help, and a handful of children in greater Victoria now have a new backyard hangout spot during the lockdown.

“It’s like a win, win, win situation,” said Lesley.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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