St. Joseph School maintains holiday tradition of promoting anti-drinking and driving


Message on a Bottle1 Message on a Bottle2By Ron Giofu


A holiday tradition is continuing at St. Joseph School as the school has embarked on its “Message on a Bottle” campaign for the 13th consecutive year.

Organized by teacher Val Pelaccia and his Grade 7 class, the campaign saw students decorate LCBO bags including putting anti-drinking and driving messages and slogans on them. The decorated bags will be returned to the Amherstburg LCBO store where they will be distributed to customers.

“The whole school is doing it,” said Grade 7 student Madison Gagnier. “It feels good when you are helping your community.”

Classmate Lily Jacobs said the class wanted to help make it a big deal again this year.

“Some people went over and above and did a bunch of them,” said Jacobs. “We really wanted to make it a big year for (Pelaccia). It’s really important for him to do this for the community.”

Jacobs added the decorated LCBO bags “are letting people know you want them to get home for the holidays.”

The “Message in a Bottle” campaign lasted for a little over two weeks but Gagnier said the work was not simply confined to the classroom.

“We take them home over the weekend and work on them,” said Gagnier.

Matthew Burrows, another student in Pelaccia’s class, recalled his early days at St. Joseph School and being at the assembly where the bags were unveiled.

“Now I’m in the class that’s doing it,” said Burrows. “It’s kind of nice.”

Burrows agreed with his classmates that it was a great way to give back to the community.

“It feels good to tell people not to drink and drive because you can hurt others who are innocent,” said Burrows.

Dean Trevisor, manager of the LCBO store in Amherstburg, told the River Town Times last Friday afternoon that customers were already asking about the bags.

“We’ve been involved for years with this,” he said.

Trevisor recalled a story when a woman walked into the store, hugged him and his staff and told them her husband never wanted to surrender his keys after they attended a party. She told the staff she finally put a bag on the dashboard of their vehicle, and when her husband saw it, he surrendered his keys to her with both having tears in their eyes. Trevisor said he regularly shares that story to help further get the message out not to drink and drive.

“We just don’t know how many lives we’ve saved or how many accidents,” he said. “It’s a good thing. These kids are learning at a young age.”

The LCBO corporate office also is in full support of the “Message on a Bottle” campaign, he added.

Pelaccia said this was the first year an assembly couldn’t be arranged but said the students are still making bags with great enthusiasm.

“It’s a very worthwhile activity for them,” said Pelaccia. “They get right into it.”

Pelaccia stated St. Joseph School’s goal was 450 bags.

“Our student enrollment has gone down but we still put out a lot of bags,” he said.

Many students, including the ones in his class, are no strangers to the initiative.

“These kids have done it since Grade 1,” he said in reference to his Grade 7 students.

JK and SK students also get into the act, with teachers photocopying a design for them to colour and decorate, Pelaccia pointed out.

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