My best stories always come back to skating and this one is no exception. I have gotten the chance over the last 20+ years of coaching to spend time with lots and lots of young people and many hold a special place in my memories but none more than my current student Sarah J or Sj as I like to call her or sometimes the Sarah-nator and sometimes Sarahsaurus…this is the third season that we will be working together and we initially bonded over the old and trusted adage: “girls rule and boys drool”.  As far as girls ruling, this one may just take over the world: she is 8 years old (turning 9 in a couple of weeks) and is set to launch her 4th annual food drive to benefit Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank – a project she started in Grade 1 when she found out on Thanksgiving that there were people who could be found within a 5 minute drive from her home who were hungry. She told her Mom Lynda that she wanted to help and start a food drive. Lynda copied down what Sarah wanted to say on her posters; things like what she wanted to do and why and that she needed help. Sarah wrote them up and her Mom took the finished flyers to Staples for copying which were then distributed.

Her target that first year were the families on her street “I knew that lots of people on my street would help. They are very nice.” Year 1 they raised 300lbs of food. Year 2, with the help of Sarah’s class and daycare, they raised 540lbs of food. Last year, younger sister Claire (now 5) chipped in with help from her senior kindergarten class as the program gained momentum. In 2011, the program will be school-wide at Sarah’s Toronto school for the first time. To date, Sarah’s Food Drive  has raised 1.3 tonnes of food!!!!

One of the cool things about having a food drive, is you get the chance to take the food to the food bank and see it weighed. Sarah says: “the first 2 years we got a tour and to see how the food is sorted but last year we couldn’t because they were too busy.”

Sarah, with the help of her family has decided to up the ante this year: “I want to break my record and raise another tonne of food.” With Sarah at the helm, they have turned to members of the community for some help. The owners of the Valu-Mart located on Bayview south of Millwood, Rob and Jessi Tremblette, jumped immediately on board to help Sarah. The Trembletts will have paper bags filled with food donations for $10 available for purchase at the checkout and are also planning on making Thanksgiving hampers including more festive food for ditribution through Sarah’s campaign. During our interview earlier today, I took Sarah with me to talk to (Prince) Eric Anweiler, our rink Manager at the North Toronto Memorial Gardens and without hesitation he offered up a large plastic bin that will be located in the lobby of the rink to accept more food donations – he also told her to “keep going with this, you’re doing a really good thing.”

Just imagine – if Sarah can do this at 8yrs old – what can the rest of us do?

Sarah’s Food Drive runs until October 8th and is accepting cash donations for the first time this year,  as well as food  and Sarah has set a fundraising goal of $500. Information can be found on their website:

In the meantime, what does Sarah want to be when she grows up? “A figure skater”

My work here is done 🙂

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