CUPE 723, representing K-12 support staff in Campbell River, recently donated $5,000 to their local food bank. Local President Andrea Craddock said that members felt “incredibly fortunate” to be working while many people faced layoffs or business closures.

CUPE 723 members have been tireless in their efforts to provide support during the pandemic crisis. While education assistants and youth care workers delivered food hampers to more than 200 families on a weekly basis and provided emergency childcare for health care workers, custodial staff deep cleaned all schools to provide a higher level of sanitation and monitored everyone entering and exiting school facilities, bus drivers were redeployed to do maintenance work, and maintenance workers put in 12 hour days to install safety barriers and provide structural modifications to keep up with school safety protocols. At the same time, clerical staff and EAs worked from home to make sure that students were provided with online education and check-ins.

“We recognized the increased need for families struggling throughout our SD 72 community and beyond,” said Craddock, noting there are a lot of worthy organizations that help people in times of need. They chose the food bank because food is such a basic need for everybody, and the Local knew demand on the food bank would increase “exponentially” during the COVID-19 crisis.

Money budgeted for local members to attend conferences and training was redirected to where it would best serve communities in their time of need, added Craddock. The executive, hoping to get everyone on board with the community spirit, put out a challenge to the Campbell River Teachers Association (CRDTA) and the Campbell River Principals and Vice Principals Association (CRPVPA) to meet their donation so there could be one big donation to the food bank.

The challenge was met, with teachers topping it up by an additional $1,000. Craddock, Laird Ruehlen from the CRPVPA and CRDTA President Dave Harper presented cheques totalling $16,000 to Deb Willis, manager of the Campbell River Food Bank on May 11.

“This initiative felt like a way for the SD 72 team to give back and reinforce the care and concern we have for all families during this difficult time,” Craddock said. “We are all in this together.”

CUPE 723 represents 340 members, who provide a wide variety of services that support students in Campbell River. They include instructional support staff (i.e. education assistants, Indigenous support workers and Strong Start), custodians, trades, maintenance, grounds, clerical, IT, administrative support, lunch-hour supervisors and child and youth care workers.

Read the story in the Campbell River Mirror.