Local charity collecting shoes on Canada Day
Stephen McPhee and his parents Nancy and James are celebrating Canada’s birthday with more than fireworks.
In Stephen’s Backpacks Society’s (SBS) fifth annual barbecue, they are helping local children by collecting new running shoes at the Footprints fundraiser.
“It’s a way for the community to come together,” said Nancy, executive director of the society.
On Canada Day, the family behind the organization will be asking the community to support them in collecting shoes for children going back to school.
“A necessity like a new pair of running shoes,” said Nancy.
“That’s the reason we do this every year.”
The barbecue will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Airdrie Superstore on July 1.
There will be highland dancers, a 14-piece piping band and a performance by Airdrie country singer Mark Lorenz.
What started as Stephen’s question about a photo in the newspaper has grown into three warehouses and several annual fundraisers to help the less fortunate.
SBS has helped about 16,000 children through their campaigns - Christmas Backpacks, Footprints and Project Hope - since its inception six years ago.
“I think that it’s not fair. Every kid should have a life - having their own home, having fridges, having beds. Homeless kids don’t have it,” McPhee, 11, said.
According to Nancy, her son’s autism doesn’t hold him back. In fact, she said it is part of his driving force to help people. His condition is part of the reason he continues to ask his mother whether the problem of homelessness still exists.
“For him, I think, in Stephen’s mind, he thinks he’s going to come to me and I’ll say ‘It’s done Stephen,’” Nancy said.
“The autism is a gift I think. He’s right - why can’t we fix it?”
Nancy is grateful to the community of Airdrie for stepping up and supporting SBS’ ideas.
“I think because Stephen is so innocent and so real anybody who talks to him … wants to help,” Nancy said.
New children’s running shoes can be dropped off at the local Superstore, COBS Bread and Starbucks locations.
To find out more about Stephen’s Backpacks Society, visit www.stephensbackpacks.com or call 403-852-9308.