‘Incredible’: Grade 3 Beckwith Public School student raises $3,000 in one day selling popcorn

Caleb Bellefeuille, age 8, organized a successful popcorn fundraiser for Beckwith Public School. – Submitted photo

A Grade 3 student at Beckwith Public School, Caleb Bellefeuille, organized a successful popcorn fundraiser, selling over 1,500 bags in a single day.

Eight-year-old Caleb, who has autism, loves to help around the school with odd-jobs and daily tasks, and often advises staff what areas of the school can be improved.

It was during one of these discussions where the idea of selling popcorn came up, a media release from the Upper Canada District School Board explains. Caleb decided to use favourite snack to fundraise for new items to help himself and other student around the school.

“He made the pamphlet himself. He made the posters. He planned it all,” said Principal Kali Greene in the media release. “He looked at how much the popcorn would be, how much we could charge for it and even ordered it himself.”

Caleb placed the order with Papa Jack Popcorn, a small Ottawa company, and on April 26, set up his popcorn stall and started selling in the hallway during the school’s ‘Bulldog Rally’.

“It was just during school, for students to eat at lunchtime,” said Greene; however, she explains that many families also purchased more so they could enjoy it at home.

Caleb ended up selling 1,600 bags, for a profit of $3,000.

It was a sale so big that word got around to Papa Jack himself (a.k.a. company owner Jack Lalonde), who made a special visit to the school to meet Caleb.

“I just thought it was incredible,” Lalonde said. “He initiated the whole program and when a small person like that initiates that type of work, I just felt he had to be rewarded.”

Lalonde proudly shook Caleb’s hand when they met and gave him a signed Papa Jack hat and gift basket, full of his favourite snack.

“I know he’s going to do well in life,” Lalonde said. “We all have challenges and the way that he overcame and took over the project, that’s impressive.”

Scott Bellefeuille, Caleb’s father, said it was a great opportunity to get him to step out of his comfort zone.

“He has a different learning experience here at school, so it’s a huge opportunity for him,” Scott said. “He can be an excellent salesman when he grows up!”

Scott added that “it’s been incredibly motivating” to see his son’s success. “He has trouble engaging in class and going into the classroom, so this has really allowed the rest of the students to see him in that role as the popcorn guy.”

Scott also thanked the staff at the school who were integral part of Caleb’s success, including Educational Assistants Shea Feldcamp and Lada Kiryanova, and Special Education Teachers Krista Munz, Frances Osborne, Andrea Jensen and Melissa Kidd. Supply teacher Keeley McGregor helped to create the posters and made Caleb’s “popcorn selling T-shirt.”

Greene says the money raised will go towards new items in the library and the school’s shared sensory space.

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