Red Deer Public School District

Volunteer helps ensure kids start the day ready to learn!

One Red Deer Public volunteer helps to ensure all students start their day off right so they are ready to learn.

Janie Watts has been volunteering with the Breakfast Program at Central Middle School two to three times a week since last September.

“My oldest grandson was graduating Grade 8 here and I was at his band concert last June and Mr. DeMale put out an announcement saying they needed help with the breakfast program,” she said. “It started percolating through that it might be something I would like to do. I like kids and it’s early mornings and I’m always up, so I thought I could give it a try. I came in and I was hooked. I just love it!”

It’s a flurry of activity first thing in the morning and Watts arrives early and gets right to work.

“We come in and we start firing up toast and cutting up cheese, eggs and fruit and getting the juice poured,” said Watts, adding that two of her grandchildren attend Central Middle which makes her time there even sweeter. “Often I have wonderful volunteer kids who will come help me if they see that I am alone. After the bell rings the kids scoot off to class and then it’s time to clean up and leave everything set up for the next day.”

Watts said she has really enjoyed her time as a volunteer.

“I like feeling useful and as I’ve been aging, I haven’t always felt useful. I love kids, I really do. There’s something about this school that has a really nice vibe to it and while I’m preparing, I like listening to the kids interacting with each other. The school is very diverse and it’s heartwarming to see the interaction between all of the kids. It brightens my day!” she said.

Darrin DeMale, Principal at Central Middle School said the breakfast program simply could not run without their volunteers.

“Janie consistently signs up on a weekly basis and always comes in last minute to ensure we have a volunteer that day,” he said. “She arrives each morning with a smile on her face, happy, pleasant and always comments what a joy it is to prepare breakfast for 200+ students daily.”

In addition, Watts said she encourages others to volunteer as well.

“I think it’s rewarding for both parties. Volunteering is good for the person who is volunteering as much as it is for the recipients,” she said. “Some mornings I would get up and it was cold and -30C and then you get here and it just makes a world of difference.”

National Volunteer Week runs through to April 13th.