Dave Dryden addresses RWTO about Sleeping Children Around the World

“A caring, sharing kind of guy” is how Kathy Watt described former NHL hockey goalie and retired teacher Dave Dryden to members at a recent meeting of the Palmerston Branch of Retired Women Teachers of Ontario.

Dryden is known for having created the first fiberglass hockey mask with a cage and being the goalie against whom Wayne Gretzky scored his first professional goal.

But his purpose at this meeting was to promote Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW), an organization that provides bed kits to children in developing countries around the world.

SCAW was started by Dryden’s parents, Murray and Margaret Dryden in 1970 when Murray Dryden was inspired to help less fortunate children after seeing children sleeping in the streets on a trip to Pakistan. Being an action-oriented person Dryden returned to Pakistan, purchased items for 50 children and distributed them at an orphanage. With the help of friends he and his wife continued the work and to date 1.5 million bed kits have been distributed.

SCAW believes in the importance of sleep and that every child deserves a good night’s sleep. Children between the ages of 6 to 12, 50 per cent boys and 50% girls are chosen to receive a bed kit.

Bed kits are tailored to the country where they will be distributed, cost $35 and consist of a mat or mattress with bedding, a mosquito net to combat disease such as malaria, a school bag and school supplies, as well as clothing and footwear. All items are sourced locally if possible, which in turn has a positive impact on the local economy.

A group of volunteers in the country of distribution, often the local Rotary Clubs, look after the manufacture of the items, find the children who would benefit most from receiving a bed kit, choose the sites for distribution and help the traveling volunteers during their stay. There is a waiting list of two years for volunteers to travel to the various countries in order to help with the distribution of these bed kits. Volunteers often help to distribute 800 bed kits in 3 to 4 hours which includes taking photos of individuals or groups of children to be sent to the donors.

SCAW is a 100% charity, meaning all of the donations go directly into the purchase of contents for the kits. Volunteers pay their own travel expenses and through a legacy fund set up by the Drydens, all overhead is paid, allowing all donation money to be used for the bed kits. Most recently Sleep Country Canada, supported by Choice Hotels promoted a Sleep Day on Nov. 4 to encourage all Canadians to participate by making a small donation to go to school or work in their pyjamas. All proceeds go to SCAW.

Tina Haldenby thanked Dryden for sharing information about SCAW and for providing a real teaching and learning experience for all. The Palmerston Branch which has been supporting SCAW for a number of years, purchased 58 bed kits and Elizabeth Smith from the Listowel Branch of RWTO/OERO presented Dryden with a check for the purchase of another 20 bed kits.

 President Anne Darroch welcomed visiting guests from the Listowel Branch of RWTO/OERO and invited them to attend the Christmas party at the Roundhouse in Palmerston on Dec. 2. Everyone enjoyed wearing the Halloween masks provided by the decorating committee and the delicious turkey dinner prepared by the ladies of Knox Presbyterian Church.

Reports were given by treasurer Joanne Matthews and Insurance Convener Mildred Francis.

Two thank you cards were read by Secretary Joan Woods.

The Walking Club met on Nov. 8 to walk the trails in Mount Forest and the book club held their meeting on Nov. 17 to discuss the Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova.

Travel convener Lynn Morrison is arranging trips for September and October 2017 to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster Pennsylvania and a Niagara Belle River Cruise. Betty Post won the draw prize donated by Jovanna Belair.

M&M’s Meat Market in Mount Forest is holding a Christmas Bazaar on Dec. 10 with proceeds going to support Ramoth House.