Airdrie-based charity has unexpected success in 2012
Airdrie charity, Stephen’s Backpacks Society for Children in Need, has had an exceptional year.
In 2012, the organization collected more than 2,000 shoes for its Footprints program; helped five families by furnishing their homes, providing food and gifts for them; and collected more than 3,000 backpacks full of supplies for families in need.
“The donations have been pouring in like the greatest blessings,” said Nancy McPhee, director of the society.
“This year, it has taken off and taken on a life of its own. You can’t put into words how much heart people have over the holidays and all year round.”
About 14 new schools in Calgary and Airdrie are on board for the backpacks project this year and are supplying the toys, hygiene items, winter clothing and other supplies for the backpacks as well as packing them.
“We have everyone from preschool to high school taking part and it is so encouraging to see these kids giving back,” said McPhee.
“People underestimate kids. You just need to explain to them that there are kids out there like them who are homeless and they understand that it is a serious problem.”
McPhee has been touring local schools sharing the society’s message with children for the past year and she said she hopes to do even more of that in 2013.
“I want kids to know that they can tell someone about their dream to make the world better and it can happen – just look at Stephen,” she said.
“Everyone can make a difference and change the world.”
The society’s Project Hope campaign filled an Airdrie apartment with furniture, clothing, appliances, food and more for a Airdrie grandfather and grandson who have been having a tough time on Dec. 11.
“The grandfather sobbed and said that we had given him hope,” said McPhee.
“That is what makes it worth it. He is so hard working and tried to make it better for his grandson who has been sick. It was heartwarming.”
The organization will do the same for a family of five on Jan. 5. The society has helped 21 families since 2008.
The society recognized its volunteers during an appreciation event at the Cornerstone Church in Calgary on Dec. 15. Former premier Ed Stelmach and Wild Rose Blake Richards attended the event.
“It was the most touching day,” said McPhee.
“There were children of all ages, native elders praying over the backpacks, you just can’t put it into words. I’m speechless and I can’t get over the generosity. I want to thank those who have given from the bottom of their hearts.”
If you know of someone in need of a backpack or a family that would be a good candidate for Project Hope, call Stephen’s Backpacks Society at 403-852-9308.