Students in Selkirk College’s adult special education program pose with a board of Post-it notes they are using to give out pizza to people in need in partnership with Thor’s Pizza. Photo: Tyler Harper

Selkirk students pay it forward with pizza

The adult special education program is buying slices for those in need

Selkirk College students want you to have a slice on them.

The adult special education program at the Silver King campus is purchasing 40 slices from Thor’s Pizza to be given out to those in need.

Alison Roy, who instructs the program along with Maria Vanderstar, said her students earn money by taking care of recycling at Nelson’s two campuses. That money is normally used to buy popcorn for Selkirk’s students, but with the end of the term approaching they wanted to expand the initiative into the community.

“My students are on a limited income so they understand the struggles that exist in having a tight budget and maybe experiencing times in the month when food is a bit more challenging to come by, especially the students who live independently,” said Roy.

“So I think they can really identify with their fellow students who struggle with a tight budget and food being expensive and having limited access to food.”

The idea was inspired by a pizzeria in Philadelphia that in 2014 began encouraging customers to buy $1 slices for the homeless community. The wall at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza is now covered in Post-it notes that hungry visitors can grab and use for a much-needed bite.

As it happens, Thor’s has already been running a similar pay-it-forward program.

Manager Michael Garbula said it began when a customer couldn’t afford a slice on Christmas Eve 2016. He told them to pay it forward. The next person in line overheard the conversation and immediately paid for someone else’s slice.

Garbula said he too was inspired by the Philly restaurant. Staff keep a board in the kitchen that tracks freebies, which are generally given to community members who can’t afford to feed themselves.

“We’re not just a place where it’s like, ‘hey man, I heard you guys have free food.’ It’s a place for people who need help, whether it’s on purpose or by accident.”

The donation by Roy’s students comes ahead of Pay It Forward Day on Saturday. Garbula said he likes to ask that people who receive a free slice do right by someone else in return.

“It doesn’t have to be money,” he said. “You can lend a hand or do a favour or whatever. It doesn’t always have to end up with money or trading, it can just be good will or giving someone your time.”

The adult special education program, which currently has 23 students at the Silver King campus, helps build skills for employment. Roy said her students liked the pizza idea because it allows them to offer something tangible to the community.

They considered other options but, according to student Tyler McKnight, there was only ever one choice.

“Everybody loves pizza!” he said.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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