Kinsmen give back to the community with Hot Paws project

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald St. Michael's students opened their packages from the Kinsmen as part of the Hot Paws program on Friday morning.

The Prince Albert Kinsmen Club is continuing a special tradition that began six years ago when the organization donated mitts and toques to students at Riverside Public School.

The program has since grown to serve more schools in both the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and Prince Albert Catholic School Division. Brad Amy and Wes Moore members of the Prince Albert Kinsmen were part of the team delivering to St. Michael Community School Friday morning.

“Our mantra of the club is serving the community’s greatest needs and keeping the kids warm and safe is a need in our community,” Amy said. “We established a Hot Paws project, and it’s just gotten bigger. It is like a $7,000 gift to the community and it’s all about giving back to the kids.”

When the program began guidance counsellors and social workers suggested mitts and toques would be a suitable gift for the students. The winter gear is wrapped and each student gets the chance to open a present.

Students from St. Catherine’s, St. Michael’s, John Diefenbaker, and Princess Margaret received gloves neck warmers and toques on Friday. In total, the Kinsmen handed out roughly 470 pieces of winter clothing.

The program gets its funding from multiple events hosted by the Prince Albert Kinsmen Club.

Michael Olekyn/Daily Herald Brad Amy and Wes Moore of the Prince Albert Kinsmen distributed gifts to students at John Diefenbaker School on Friday morning.

Amy counted down from 10 before the students opened their packages at both St. Michael and John Diefenbaker.

At St. Michael students were invited to sing “Frosty the Snowman” during the presentation in the school’s drama room. After morning recess the Grade 1 to 4 students at John Diefenbaker were lined up in the common area before Moore and Amy distributed the gifts.

John Diefenbaker Principal Roy Feschuk said the gifts were well-timed.

“We are in a place of need that I have never seen in many years of being an educator,” Feschuk said. “When you have got organizations like the Kinsmen and the Kinettes that are willing to at the drop of a hat take some time away from what they do on a daily basis … that brightens the lives of our kids here.”

The Kinsmen Club gets a deal on the winter gear, which comes from Canadian-owned company Hot Paws. Feschuk said the students were excited to receive the packages.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Students at John Diefenbaker School opened their packages from the Kinsmen as part of the Hot Paws program on Friday morning.

“The expressions that we got were ‘I have been waiting for this for weeks’, ‘oh I was hoping I would get a new hat’ and the kids are just beaming,” he explained. “It was a simple gift. It was toques and mitts and neck warmers and the kids were just pumped because now they can get outside and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of where we live. The Kinsmen know what it takes to put a smile on kids’ faces and they come through time and again.”

Amy and Moore split handing out the gifts at both schools. They were joined by other members of the Kinsmen as time allowed throughout the day.

Moore explained that each of the divisions is helpful in getting the packages delivered.

“We work with the school divisions and ask them where the greatest need is and then we respond to those.”