Dayne Bill decorates his Smile Cookie as part of the annual Smile Cookie campaign at Tim Hortons. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Local Reading College students decorate Smile Cookies

The campaign, in partnership with Tim Hortons, supports annual reading program

The annual Smile Cookie campaign is underway via Tim Hortons, with proceeds supporting Reading College – a project of the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools.

Through to Sept. 23rd, Tim Hortons owners in Red Deer will donate all proceeds from sales of a special smiling chocolate chunk cookie to support the Reading College program.

Local Reading College students unleashed their creativity on Sept. 18th by helping to decorate cookies at the Tim Hortons south of Bower Mall (2325 50 Ave.)

“In the early years, when kids are in school, they are learning to read but really after Grade three, they are reading to learn,” said Bruce Buruma, director of community relations for Red Deer Public. “If they don’t have those foundational skills in those early years, school is going to become more and more difficult,” he said.

“So with the Reading College program, we identify kids who have struggles with reading. They just need that little extra boost.

“So we do 20 days at Red Deer College; we have our staff that work with those students and we have new graduates from the Bachelor of Education program at the College, so it’s a great partnership with RDC as well.”

Buruma said the other advantage is that the experience also exposes the youngsters to the College in general.

“Some of the students say, ‘When I finish high school, I want to go here’. So it really supports a number of things – it supports our priority on literacy, it supports our priority on student success and high school completion,” he said.

“The results have shown fantastic outcomes for these children.”

Buruma said that last year in Red Deer, 33,000 Smile Cookies were sold.

“Our challenge is to meet or beat that this week,” he said.

Tanya Doucette, Tim Hortons owner at the location where the decorating event was held, said that the Reading College provides such a foundational element that really can’t be surpassed in helping the youngsters to become great readers.

“On behalf of all restaurant owners and team members in Red Deer, I would like to thank our loyal guests for their generosity and support of the Smile Cookie campaign,” she said.

“Tim Hortons is thrilled to support The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools and Reading College with the funds raised and bring smiles to so many people’s faces. We welcome everyone to come in this week to buy a delicious freshly-baked Smile Cookie in support of a great cause.”