Local residents may have seen the Royal Canadian Army Cadets fundraising over the weekend on Jan. 25.
Save-On-Foods patrons could have enjoyed a hot dog and some entertainment as cadets practiced drills in the parking lot, all the while selling sandbags to support the organization.
According to Commanding Officer, Shawn Dulmage, the sandbags are the cadet’s primary fundraising effort.
“We have a lot of vendors around town that support us by selling them,” he said. “We raise the money to be able to do the supplemental things for our cadets.”
Those supplemental initiatives include extracurricular functions, group outings, rent and keeping the lights on. Dulmage says the cadets have been selling the sandbags for nearly 20 years.
“When the community knows the bags are ours, we see the support,” he said. “This is how we keep our program going and are able to afford extracurricular activities for the cadets.”
The sandbags take the cadets two days to assemble and average out to be 3,000 bags. Dulmage said the sandbags tend to provide enough income and some for the entire year. The bags can be found at 7-11, Husky, Timber Mart, 100 Mile Feed and Ranch Supply, as well as at the Race Trac gas station in Lac la Hache. Nearly 134 bags were sold on Jan. 25.
“This is the first time we tried selling the sandbags like that, so we included the hotdog sale as well,” said Dulmage. “We fundraised roughly $600 that day.”
The cadet program is free and everything is provided to the cadets – uniforms, travel, meals, training etc.
“We focus on leadership and self-reliance,” he said. “People often think the cadets’ program will teach them discipline but we will teach them self-discipline. We don’t follow the ‘drop and give me 50’ thing anymore, it’s not a part of our program.”
Dulmage said the cadet program is often misconceived.
“We teach them leadership skills and we teach them to be able to teach,” he said. “Our senior cadets will help run the program. They are involved in teaching the younger cadets.”
The Royal Canadian Cadets are involved in assisting the Legion with their poppy drive, the Remembrance Day parade and can often be seen volunteering at events upon request.
Dulmage said there are currently 28 cadets in the local program.
“I think every community should have something that is available to everybody,” said Dulmage. “It’s available to everybody because there is no cost to the parents. The biggest part of our program is the zero-tolerance for bullying or negativity. We are pretty vigilante about it.”
The program, for boys and girls aged 12 to 18, has been running for more than 25 years in the South Cariboo. Registration typically begins in September but Dulmage said anyone that is interested can join the program at any time.