More than 100 black and yellow tote bins packed with dry goods, warm clothes and some very special hockey equipment began a 1,500 kilometre journey Wednesday morning.
The plastic bins full of donations collected by students at Saint-Michel Catholic elementary school will travel by truck and plane in order to reach a small Oji-Cree reserve called Bearskin Lake First Nation.
It's the second year the entire school has pitched in on a project to help the northern Ontario community. After the success of 2016's delivery, principal Richard Szwed said students started off the school year asking if they could please do it again.
"Having spoken with a few of the people and knowing how much it meant to them that someone down south was going to help their friends up north meant a lot," he explained.
Last year's shipment included some skates and hockey equipment, which proved to be very popular.
"They had organized a hockey tournament on one of the frozen ponds up there and a lot of the children who had never worn skates before were able to lace them up and they played for hours and just did not want to get off the ice," said Szwed.
So this time around, about 60 pairs of skates, 40 hockey sticks and 14 bags full of equipment have been added to the haul of 107 boxes.
"The generosity of the community was amazing," said the principal.
School staff also asked their northern counterparts what they needed to enjoy the chilly winter and were told coffee was the key, so two coffee makers, a set of matching mugs and a year's worth of coffee is headed their way.
School will be tracking shipment
The truck that left the school Wednesday morning will carry the bins as far as Concorde, Ont, before passing them along to another truck that will carry them as far as Pickle Lake — about a 500 kilometre drive north of Thunder Bay.
That's where the road runs out, so the final leg will be covered by plane. Szwed said he's hoping the donations will arrive by Monday.
"We have a map of Ontario on the big screen for morning announcements," he said. "So it's projected into every classroom and we're going to track the truck's route all the way up."