Island mother honouring memory of son with food bank donations

·3 min read
Sunday would have been Cole Rayner's 18th birthday. (Tina Rayner/Facebook - image credit)
Sunday would have been Cole Rayner's 18th birthday. (Tina Rayner/Facebook - image credit)

A P.E.I. mother is honouring the memory of her son by donating to local food banks.

Sunday would have been Cole Rayner's 18th birthday. He was killed in a single-vehicle accident last fall

The vehicle he was driving went off the road in Huntley, in western P.E.I., in September.

Tina Rayner, Cole's mother, says her son always worried about kids at school who may not have had enough to eat.

"He has come home from school talking about kids not having money for school lunches or money to buy school lunches," she said. "So we thought that'd be a good way that we could reach people who are wanting to do something in Cole's memory."

Cole played minor hockey and was a student at Westisle Composite High School.
Cole played minor hockey and was a student at Westisle Composite High School.(Tina Rayner/Facebook)

Cole's death was among several tragedies in the West Prince area last September. Two 17-year-olds, Ethan Reilly and Alex Hutchinson, died just over 10 days earlier when their boat capsized.

Community support since the deaths has been "incredible," says Rayner. She often sees teens at Cole's grave in Alberton.

"It kind of pulls at my heartstrings when I drive by and see that," she said.

"Another way I thought we would honour Cole's birthday was to have a bench made for visitors to the graveyard. We left an empty plastic tote so that people could drop off food donations."

She said there was already a bag of items at the graveyard early Sunday.

Monitory donations reached around $1,350 by Sunday evening.

Those wishing to donate to the food bank in Cole's honour can drop off food items or money at Games West until Friday.
Those wishing to donate to the food bank in Cole's honour can drop off food items or money at Games West until Friday.(Tina Rayner/Facebook)

Rayner said her son didn't witness many people experiencing homelessness growing up in rural P.E.I., but he did on a school trip to Ontario.

"Rather than kind of step back from the situation and not know what to do he bought food and brought it out and approached the man and gave it to him."

It's these memories she wants to honour with her donation on Cole's behalf — and she is getting some help from the community.

Tanner Handrahan runs Games West, a video game shop in Alberton. He said he bought some of Cole's games from Rayner after he died and didn't feel right about the idea of profiting from them.

"Alongside of a personal donation, we have decided to help collect as well and set up a drop-off spot to accommodate people who may not be able to make it to the grave site," he said.

"Tina has been into the shop quite a few times the past few weeks and I've just heard her story and it really just hit close to home. I have kids of my own and I don't know what I'd ever do."

Those wishing to donate to the food bank in Cole's honour can drop off items or money at Games West until Friday.

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