To celebrate the start of the school year, Chef Bernard Executive Chef at The Manse on Marsh senior community and eight residents stuffed backpacks full of supplies for area children in need. The project is incredibly special, as Chef Bernard explains the origin of his desire to give back, and the evolution of one mother’s immense love.
Where did the idea to donate school supplies to area children begin?
“Eighteen years ago, my Mom, Doris, noticed that a lot of kids in her church were coming from poor backgrounds and she felt that parents were having hard enough times putting food on the table, and weren’t as concerned with the kids’ education, as they should be.
Every kid in the neighborhood knew “Ms. Doris” and knew that she’d talk to them about anything positive.
She was speaking to a boy one day and asked him if he was he ready to go back to school?
The kid said no, as his Mom hadn’t taken him shopping for books and or notebooks yet.
Doris had a strong will to do something for everyone, and took that boy to buy notepads, pens, pencils, and a sharpener. The next Sunday, she told the story to her friend, and said that the church should start buying supplies for kids.
It was shot down, so she started buying a few things herself, and then she started knocking on business doors for donations, and it snowballed. The 1st year they did bags of supplies for 8 kids.
The next year, she got the church to help and they did 40 bags. And it grew larger each year. They actually filled bags, not backpacks.
Mom passed away this past February, 2016. The church continued the drive this year, and my cousin said they filled 160 bags this year, including some backpacks. The beat goes on in her memory.”
We’re so sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. Is that when you decided to bring your mother’s tradition to the Central Coast?
“When my Mom started getting ill, the idea came to me to do something like this here. Last year, we stuffed 26 backpacks with school supplies and we had 3 residents help us fill them.”
And this year?
“This year we stuffed 46 backpacks, with 8 residents helping us fill them.”
Where were the backpacks distributed?
“They were distributed throughout the San Luis Obispo Public School System. I was blessed to know the staff at Laguna Middle School, and they also knew what children were in need. We also went to Bishops Peak Elementary School and met Dan Block, The Principal, and they were very welcoming. Lastly, we went to Sinsheimer Elementary, and CL Smith Elementary School.”
If people want to help, what can they do?
“The community businesses need to do very little to help. The simple answer is that when we knock on their doors or contact them, they open their arms and donate- whether it is money to donating supplies, or pens with their logo or pads. Anything that could go into a backpack for a kid, is appreciated. There is a supermarket in Ireland whose slogan is “Every little Helps.” This could not be more true!
A huge thank you goes out to, The Manse on Marsh, Sysco Foods, Heritage Oaks Bank, The Berryman & J&L Wines, as they were all very gracious and supportive, in making donations and or contributing towards this annual event.”
We’d like to thank you, Chef Bernard, for letting us be a part this tradition, and the honor of celebrating the wonderful tradition of giving started by your mother. For more information on our incredible Chef, visit our “Culinary” page on www.themanse.net.