The Alberni Valley Childcare Society will be acquiring a new bus for its Stepping Stones Programs before the end of its large fundraising campaign. Program administrator Julie Spencer said children will be riding to and from school in style by the beginning of March. When the bus was subjected to a mechanical failure last spring, it only received a temporary repair at the cost of $43,000. That was when board members decided to start a fundraising initiative for a new school bus. The ball started rolling with donations from the summer’s Charity Golf Classic, the Society’s annual Halloween Spooktacular and in-house chocolate sales. The final push is the current raffle, with the top prize being a large playhouse built by students of the VAST woodworking program.
“To date, we have raised approximately $53,000 and if we sell out of raffle tickets, that will be an additional $15,000,” Spencer said.
The bus is expected to cost between $70,000 to $80,000.
When the Society acquired the 24-passenger micro school bus 15 years ago, it was purchased new, but has experienced too much wear and tear to continue. The new one will be the same size, but will be modernized with new features, including an automatic door opener.
Between the three different site locations for before and afterschool care, just over 50 students depend on the bus for transportation.
“When parents work in the morning, they can bring their child to the centre and we will bring them to school on time and pick them up after,” Spencer said. “We also transfer between centres because some kids attend Alberni Elementary but go to daycare at Hilton, so we will pick them up at school.”
From a program enhancement perspective, Spencer said the bus will add to the children’s daycare experience.
The bus is used for local fieldtrips but the new one will allow groups to visit places further afield, including the Parksville beach, Little Qualicum Falls and the Nanaimo wave pool.
“We can go to places as simple as the neighbourhood park, but in the summer, some kids are not getting the classic summer vacation so we can enhance their experience,” Spencer said. “It broadens their learning experience.”
Spencer hopes all raffle tickets will be sold by the cut off on May 20.
Only 3,000 are available and can be purchased for $5 each at any of the Alberni Valley Childcare Society locations, through parents of the centre or on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Quality Foods. The second prize is a $500 gift card for Quality Foods and the third is a Wheels on the Bus quilt made by AVCCS board members. The draw takes place on May 25.