The owner of Kemptville’s Canadian Tire franchise took the opportunity to give back to a local school last week by donating anti-bullying shirts to students and staff, who raise money for the store’s Jumpstart charity every year. Store owner Frank Hoffman was originally approached by Principal Melanie Seabrook of North Gower/Marlborough Public School about covering the cost of 100 shirts, bearing the phrase “BE KIND, always”, for some of the student population. However, Frank decided that the school was deserving of something more.
“My response was, not only am I willing to help them buy t-shirts, I’m going to buy them all t-shirts,” Frank said. Frank revealed that the school does a fundraiser for the Jumpstart program year after year, raising money to help children from lower income families enroll in organized sports. The charity, which is affiliated with Canadian Tire, was founded in 2005, and helps kids overcome barriers of both finances and accessibility to participate in sport and recreation. The t-shirts were part of marking the International Day of Pink on April 13.
“This is a day celebrated in Canada and around the world as a reminder to everyone of the power of allyship and speaking out against bullying when you see it happening,” said Melanie. “Every year, we mark this day to honour the bravery of two high school students who stepped in when a fellow student was being bullied for being gay and wearing a pink shirt. These students heard what happened and mobilized their entire school to wear pink in support of the student who was bullied. This is the power of allyship. Our small actions can have a large impact. This is what Frank supported and we are so grateful!”
Students and staff in OCDSB schools wear pink to stand with #2SLGBTQ+ students, friends, co-workers, and community members, and stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. “Our schools are places where everyone should feel safe,” Melanie added.
The plan to have the entire student and staff population of North Gower/Marlborough Public School in pink t-shirts is one that has been in the works since 2020. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic would have made it difficult to get everyone in one photo with their pink shirts on. This year, students and staff were finally able to sport their new pink shirts, and gather for the long-awaited photo.