Students build playhouse for school bus fundraiser

Credit: Kristi Dobson
Vast students, in front, Starr Planes, Nick Smith, Kalissa Montgomery, Madyson Smith and Linda Planes, presented the Alberni Valley Childcare Society with a playhouse for its new school bus fundraising raffle on Thursday.
Kristi Dobson

A joint effort between students of VAST and the Alberni Valley Childcare Society makes it easy for the public to have a chance at winning a newly built playhouse. The class unveiled the project on Thursday morning and presented it to Society representatives. 

The woodworking program at the alternative school has become synonymous with giving back to the community through its projects and this year is no different. Students took on the task of constructing a playhouse that will be a part of the Stepping Stones Bus fundraising initiative. 

The school bus, which transports children to and from school, as well as on field trips, is 14 years old and is in need of replacing. It has 300,000 km on it and recently underwent costly mechanical repairs. The new one will provide safety, reliability and the ability to take children on trips further afield.

Purchasing the bus, at an estimated cost of $70,000 to $80,000 is a huge undertaking, said AVCCS program administrator Julie Spencer. 

"The Alberni Valley Childcare Society will benefit greatly from the hard work of the students," Spencer said. "We can see all of the care and love that has gone into it. We hope to turn this hard work into $15,000 towards the new bus." 

Spencer said the not-for-profit childcare organization had to turn to the community for support. 

"We are excited that the students are a part of turning this dream of getting a new bus into reality," she said. 

Five of the students, including Kalissa Montgomery, Linda Planes, Starr Planes, Nick Smith and Madyson Smith, were on hand for the unveiling. They said that being a part of pounding nails and sanding wood was a worthy experience that began in November. For most, it was their first time learning about construction. 

"Having (instructor Jim Lawson) was really good," said Linda. "He went step-by-step and taught us everything we know. We all had individual jobs but worked as a team." 

For Lawson, working with the students is something in which he takes pride. 

"I have the best job in the whole wide world," Lawson said. "I get to spend my day, all day, building stuff with students. The only better thing is having the opportunity to showcase their work."

He said the completion of the playhouse was made possible from a combination of the students' commitment, dedication and pride of workmanship. 

"It is important to me in the choice of project we build to think of the community," he said. "This raffle for a new bus sets out what we do here." 

The raffle, to include the playhouse as first prize, is the largest fundraiser to help pay for the bus. The second prize is a $500 gift card for Quality Foods and the third is a Wheels on the Bus quilt made by AVCCS board members. Tickets are $5 and only 3,000 are available. 

If you want to get in early on the draw, the first opportunity to buy tickets is tonight at the Bulldogs game. After that, they will be available through AVCCS programs and on seven Saturdays around  town until May 20. The draw will take place May 25.