Aldergrove students come through for Canuck Place

The students Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School raised $3,182.05 for the Canuck Place Hospice through a penny drive fundraiser.  - Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
The students Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School raised $3,182.05 for the Canuck Place Hospice through a penny drive fundraiser.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

Ryan Walter shared the story of when Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001.

While in most instances, the team captain — who is the first player handed the Cup — traditionally hoists the cherished trophy high above his head for all to see, Sakic chose instead to pass it to Raymond Bourque.

Bourque had joined the Avalanche just that season after a long and storied 21-year career with the Boston Bruins. Bourque jubilantly lifted the Cup high over his head.

"At the end of the day, great players play for their teammates," Walter told the students at Aldergrove's Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School on Friday morning.

"It is not about 'me' it is about 'us.'"

"That is what Canuck Place feels about what you have done for them."

"You have decided to get together and do something a lot bigger. You are a caring team."

Walter, who played more than 1,000 NHL games with Washington, Montreal and Vancouver, and now serves as the president of the AHL's Abbotsford Heat,  was the special guest at an assembly as the Coghlan students presented a cheque for $3,182.05 to Canuck Place Children's Hospice.

The money will go toward the new hospice being constructed in Abbotsford.

The dollar amount is unofficial, as even that morning, more donations were coming, said Teresa Verigin, the Coghlan Parent Advisory Council (PAC) president.

The amount raised — which in a school of 230 works out to about $13 per student — all originated from a simple penny drive which began on Jan. 29 and concluded on Feb. 19.

But as the coins kept pouring in, the dollar tally continued to rise.

In the end, the students collected a staggering number of coins: 133,065 pennies, 4,211 nickels, 5,836 dimes, 1,973 quarters, 126 loonies and 49 toonies.

Altogether 375 kilograms in coins were dutifully rolled by Michelle Kehler, a parent at the school.

"No, it wasn't even in our plan that it would ever get this big," said Verigin.

"We are totally amazed and so, so proud of the kids."

Canuck Place was chosen as the recipient after one of parents on the school's PAC committee mentioned how charities such as Canuck Place had seen their donations drop, stemming from the NHL lockout.

"We felt the children could relate to helping other children," said Coghlan principal Barbara Dayco.

"And we are all hockey fans (at the school)."

Much like the current and past Canuck players have given their time and money to Canuck Place, so could the students, she said.

"One of the greatest gifts you can give is to help those in need," said Cora Boecker, a Canuck Place volunteer, who attended the assembly along with Jeffrey Thiessen, a fundraising co-ordinator for Canuck Place.

"You have given a really big gift which will help a lot of kids."

"I think it is the heart of kids that moves things," Thiessen said. "We as adults have a lot to learn from you."

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