Fundraiser helps students kick off school year in new shoes
Six friends and volunteers hopped aboard the bus with the McPhee family, founders of local charity Stephen’s Backpack Society (SBS), on Aug. 24 to deliver donations of shoes to three local charities.
The shoes were dropped off at the Airdrie Food Bank; The Alex, a charity that provides health care to at risk, low-income, homeless and immigrant Calgarians; and Inn from the Cold.
There wasn’t much room for others, as the bus was packed with balloons and boxes containing the 2,000 pairs of shoes collected in the Society’s fifth annual Footprints Campaign.
Nancy McPhee, executive director of SBS, said she was pleased with the amount of donations received this year.
“We made three times what we did last year,” she said.
The Footprints Campaign provides a pair of indoor and outdoor shoes to children in need heading back to school in the fall.
The shoes were collected and purchased by the society in July and August at community events such as a Canada Day barbecue and local stores including Airdrie’s Superstore, COBS Bread and Starbucks locations.
The Footprints program is one of the several annual fundraisers put on by SBS, which was founded six years ago. SBS’ Christmas Backpacks, Footprints and Project Hope campaigns have helped about 16,000 children to date.
While the Footprints program was successful, Nancy said it was a challenge this year.
“This was a really hard campaign,” she said, adding after Zellers stores were bought by Target, the price of shoes quadrupled from $3 to $12.
“They wouldn’t budge,” she said, saying she tried to negotiate with them to lower the prices.
After failed negotiations, she said the Society purchased shoes from Giant Tiger in Calgary, a Canadian discount retail store that sold her 600 pairs for between $5 and $8. Despite the minor setback, McPhee said she was thrilled with the amount of community support.
“We’re really blessed,” she said.
“We couldn’t do this without the people of Airdrie.”
As the bus prepared to leave, Stephen said he was excited to get going.
“When are we going to finish this Stephen?” Nancy asked on the bus.
“When there’s no more homeless,” he replied.
For more information, visit www.stephensbackpacks.com