Pre-service firefighter students having been fundraising for the Food Cupboard during their annual Boot Drive at the Woodroffe campus. Photo credit: Stephane Gunner

Pre-service firefighter students are back fundraising for the college’s Food Cupboard serving the Woodroffe, Pembroke and Perth campuses.

The three-day Boot Drive ends on Dec. 9. Students have been fundraising on their lunch breaks.

Cheryl E. Hardwick, a full-time instructor in the police and public safety institute, said the Boot Drive started in 2018, two years before COVID-19 was first reported in Canada.

“During COVID, we took a break – so yeah, this will be their third year in total,” Hardwick said.

“It’s fun to do these things and to work together. (The students are) super proud to walk around on campus and talk to people, especially if they get to wear their bunker gear,” Hardwick said with a smile. “To raise money is just a good initiative altogether.”

Pre-service firefighter student Alex Landry, 20, of Sudbury said it’s common for people, including students, to start fundraising programs to assist people, especially during the holiday season.

“I know for myself I live with my partner and we’re both in college. So money is tight for some parts of the year. So doing this, I feel very empathetic towards other students (with) the same struggle,” Landry said. “Doing this Boot Drive is important, people shouldn’t be ashamed of having struggles, especially with money and food, especially in this day and age because inflation is rising very high.”

Another pre-service firefighter student, Jacob Pritchard, 21, of Montreal, said the Boot Drive is for students that do not feel comfortable with the food they have.

“We have a lot of very generous people and we’re thankful for that, very thankful to have people donate the way they are because I wasn’t expecting to get to this point,” Pritchard said.

Liam Brewer, 19, of Orléans, who is also in the pre-service firefighter program, said he has done a good deal of volunteering through coaching with his mother for the Gloucester-Cumberland Wolverines and volunteering many hours before the Boot Drive.

“We’ve already gotten a good deal of great people coming in and donating money,” Brewer said. “This is my first time going around Algonquin asking for donations, but I’m hoping it goes well.”

Hardwick said the main message for the Boot Drive is that this is an example of what students can do as a team to help others. The fire service often does charity and community events as part of the career and culture, so the Boot Drive is a great way for students to get involved in their community.