Cathy Carter greets each student by name as she serves up breakfast every school day at George Jay Elementary.
“The kids get to come in, sit down, have a full breakfast before school and start their day off in a good way,” Cathy says. “And starts my day off right, too!”
Cathy, a long-time education assistant at the school, has been running the volunteer breakfast program for the last 10 years to ensure kids aren’t hungry.
“When a child is fed, that’s one less thing on their plate, no pun intended,” Cathy laughs. “They’re able, they’re willing to start learning as soon as they get into class.”
It’s something grade five student Addison Hutching, who’s been at the school since kindergarten, looks forward to every school day.
“I think it’s really amazing that they can give food to kids and it’s really delicious,” Addison says. “Some people don’t have enough money to even buy food, so I feel like it’s really amazing she’s doing this.”
The kids love the program — and Cathy.
“I love Cathy, she’s super nice!” says George Jay student Dahouk Adlan. “I think it’s a very good job and thank you a lot to Cathy!”
“She’s amazing!” Addison adds. “She’s really fun, really sweet! I think it’s amazing that she does all of this for us.”
“She’s a saint,” co-worker Lara Fraser says. “She’s at the grocery store on Sundays shopping, just the love and devotion she has for this program is admirable, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”
It wouldn’t be possible without donations and lots of dedicated volunteers.
“It’s a community effort, it’s not just me,” Cathy says. “I couldn’t do it without the financial aid that comes in from the community and my volunteers that I have every single day.”
Cathy also runs Coats for Kids to help families in need and donations are currently being collected at guest services at Hillside Centre.
“I just picked up a bunch of donations and I’ll go home and go through them, making sure the zippers work and that there’s no holes, and then make sure they go to a kid that needs them,” Cathy explains.
And this year, demand is higher than ever.
“This year has been a huge demand, probably our most so far, and it’s not just the schools and programs that have been calling us,” Cathy says. “We’ve been getting people finding us on Facebook.”
Giving back is in Cathy’s DNA. She says she’s just grateful she can help make a difference.
“I was a single mom of three kids and I had amazing support from friends, from my family, and I was brought up that you give back, you pay it forward,” she says. “I’m grateful for the life I was given, so I just pay it forward.”