Local charity helps Calgary family make house a home
Stephen’s Backpacks Society helped another family by providing food, furniture, toys and other household items to a single father with four kids in Calgary, May 12.
The Society partnered with Inn From the Cold, a Calgary-based non-profit organization that provides hope and help to homeless families and others in need, as a well as a number of local businesses to turn the family’s house into a home.
“It was so special,” said Nancy McPhee, executive director of Stephen’s Backpack Society.
“It was so great to be able to do this on Mother’s Day weekend. The kids were so surprised and pleased and it was great to be able to do this for the father.”
Twenty-five volunteers from Pepsi and a number of other helpers filled the family’s cupboards, dropped off and set up beds, couches, tables and even a desk and computer for the father who is going back to school.
“McArthur Fine Furniture was such a huge help along with Superstore, and COBS Bread,” said McPhee, who is Stephen’s mother.
Six years ago, then five-year-old Stephen created Stephen’s Backpacks Society after he read a story in the newspaper about homeless children in Calgary.
He and his family started collecting backpacks filled with toys and supplies for children in need.
The Society has since become a registered charity that collects thousands of backpacks each year; thousands of pairs of shoes for the Footprints campaign and has helped 13 families in need in Airdrie and Calgary.
The group set up a home for an Airdrie family last Christmas and McPhee said they would love to help more people in the community where the charity got its start.
“If you know someone in Airdrie who needs a hand up, give us a call,” she said. “We want to help in our community. It is really important to us that local families get all the support they need.”
The Society’s Footprints program has teamed up with local Starbucks to collect shoes for children in need.
The cafes in Calgary, Airdrie and CrossIron Mills mall will be collecting new pairs of children’s shoes starting in June.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” said McPhee.
“We can’t wait to get this initiative started.”
Last year’s fundraising program finale attracted an employee of Starbucks, who donated $300 worth of coffee coupons to the backpacks program.
The employee said Starbucks would like to be more involved this year and the rest is history.
“I really look forward to the day when we don’t have to collect shoes and backpacks,” said McPhee.
“It is so important for kids to just be able to be kids and not have to worry about indoor shoes for school or where their next meal is going to come from or where they are going to sleep.”
This year will mark the fourth year of the shoe collection campaign.
Last year’s Footprints project collected 2,000 pairs of shoes for Albertan children in need.
Shoes can also be donated at COBS Bread and Superstore in Airdrie.
For more information on Stephen’s Backpacks Society or to recommend a local family who needs help, visit www.stephensbackpacks.com or call 403-852-9308.