By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The family of Noelle Pacquette is certain the beloved kindergarten teacher is dancing in the afterlife.
“I think she would be thrilled,” said mom Lynn Paquette following a recent donation to be shared between the English Catholic board and public school board. “Nicole did so much for her students while she was here. We want to keep on doing the things that mattered to her.”
Lynn, joined by Noelle’s sister Nicole, made the comments following a $188,500 donation from Noelle’s Gift – the charity founded in honour of the popular St. Clair Catholic District School Board teacher who was slain on New Year’s Eve in 2013. The money will be split between schools across the district in both Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent.
The 2023 $188,500 gift surpasses the $155,000 donation made by the charity in 2022.
Since its inception, Noelle’s Gift for Children has raised a total of $3.5 million to help youngsters in need. The charity has assisted many children and families individually, as well as supporting numerous causes such as school-based nutrition programs and reading and literacy efforts.
SCCDSB director Scott Johnson said Noelle’s Gift has made a powerful impact providing barrier-free assistance to children.
“There are no hoops and hurdles for them to have to go through,” said Johnson of the youngsters who benefit. “It’s no questions asked. As a result, our students are able to focus on their learning.
“What a tremendous gift to our communities; and an awesome legacy for Noelle, who was a much-loved daughter, sister, friend and teacher,” Johnson said.
Lambton Kent District School Board education director John Howitt said the efforts made by the volunteer-based agency are “incredible.
“We want to say a huge thank you to Noelle’s Gift and to the community,” Howitt stated, noting the funds are directed to a wide array of emergent and unanticipated needs, “quickly and confidentially.”
Funds from Noelle’s Gift are used to purchase items, such as eyeglasses, clothing, food, medicine and medical equipment. Teachers are able to access up to $200 immediately. Requests for more than $200 are processed by school principals.
For more information on fundraiser efforts or to volunteer, visit noellesgift.ca.