Tatiana and Mark Buhler of Abbotsford have a heart for helping others, and now that message is being passed on to their four young children.
The Buhler kids, after finding out that there are people in the community who go without food or gifts, decided to set up a stand in front of their house and sell treats to raise money to help others.
They began the initiative on Nov. 1, selling homemade cookies, doughnuts, hot chocolate, candy and other treats to passersby outside of their home on Terry Fox Avenue in central Abbotsford. One day they even sold hot soup.
The booth is manned mostly by Benson, 6, and Alexa, 4, but their younger siblings – Katie, 2, and Jamie, 11 months – are often by their side.
The group is outside, rain or shine, every weekday after school from around 3 to 5 p.m.
Their goal is to raise $800 to sponsor a family with four children through the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau, supplying them with food and gifts for the holiday season.
Tatiana said she and Mark have been involved in sponsorship with other organizations over the years.
Earlier this year, Tatiana was approached by a homeless man who was asking for change – which she gave him – as she was pulling the kids out of the car at a grocery store.
“Our kids right away started to ask questions: ‘Mommy, why is that man asking you for money?’ I took it as an opportunity to share with the kids that some people don’t have the same opportunities in life, through their choices or life’s circumstances, and how it takes people like us to help them out where we can,” Tatiana said.
In the days that followed, the kids returned to the topic a few times. Benson, in particular, was distressed that there could be people in Abbotsford with no home or not enough money to buy food, Tatiana said.
“Every time we would drive by the homeless, my son would beg me to pull over so we could give them change or demand that we go to the store and buy them food ‘right now!’ ”
Tatiana said a few times they purchased some snacks for a person panhandling in front of a grocery store, with the kids insisting that they buy healthy foods. She said the kids would go to the fruit section and look for “organic” labels, often leaving the store with regular items for their family and organic choices for homeless people.
This led to Tatiana and Mark asking the kids if they should sponsor a family this year. They agreed, and the Buhlers submitted their application to the Christmas Bureau.
Shortly afterwards, Benson asked if it was just one family who needs help this Christmas.
“I told him no, there are many families that can’t afford toys for the kids or meals for the family,” Tatiana said.
“He was very upset that there were families who would not have these things at Christmas so he said to me, very matter-of-factly, ‘Then we need to sponsor more families.’ ”
The kids then came up with the idea to set up a stand in front of their house and raise money for the cause. They plan to continue into December. Tatiana and Mark will match whatever amount is raised and, if they collect more than $800, then they will sponsor another family.
Tatiana said it has been a wonderful experience for them.
“This has really brought our neighbourhood together and has brought so much joy as people check in daily to see where the kids are at in achieving their goals,” she said.
For information about sponsoring a family at Christmas, visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com/christmas-bureau.
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Vikki Hopes | Reporter
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