Jessica Lewis is determined to raise as much money as she can for the Comox Valley Food Bank, even if that means standing outside four hours per night in wet and cold weather.
The Grade 12 G.P. Vanier student has been offering hot chocolate, tea and apple cider from a little stand on the corner of 26th Street and Fitzgerald Avenue from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday, since Nov. 28.
As she served hot drinks to passersby Monday night, she said she got rained out only one evening since she started. She smiled as she confirmed she was even out there during those cold nights earlier this month, which saw temperatures dip well below freezing.
“I just thought I’d make a hot chocolate stand and start donating to (the food bank) because it looked like they could really use some help this time of year,” Lewis says, noting all proceeds after costs will be donated to the food bank Dec. 23.
The minimum donation for a hot chocolate is $1, or $1.25 with whipped cream, and she has chocolate sprinkles. The minimum donation for tea and apple cider is 50 cents. She is considering a career as a baker and usually has a toaster oven with warm homemade mini-apple pies on hand, too.
Lewis had raised just over $191 as of Monday. In an effort to raise more money, she will be at her hot drinks stand each night until Monday, Dec. 23, including Sunday, which she normally takes off. After she closes Dec. 23, she plans to hand the money over to the food bank.
Because it’s fully dark by the time she opens up her stand for the evening, Lewis sets up festive decorations each night.
“I have it all lit up,” she says. “I have a Christmas tree I set up every night for it to try to get attention because it’s really dark around that corner.”
She’s located kitty-corner to the Rialto Theatre, and during the premier of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, she sold hot drinks to ‘hobbits’ on their way to the movie. She also says homeless people sometimes come by the stand for a free drink, and “they always light up” when she hands them hot chocolate.
Anyone interested in buying a hot drink and helping Lewis raise money for the food bank can stop by 26th Street and Fitzgerald Avenue between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. from now until Dec. 23.