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Backpacks Society thriving in 2013

By: Stacie Snow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Stephen McPhee of Airdrie's chairty Stphen's Backpacks Society stands with calgary resident Josh Wilson on Dec. 31. Wilson won two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies in the society's recent draw.
Stephen McPhee of Airdrie's chairty Stphen's Backpacks Society stands with calgary resident Josh Wilson on Dec. 31. Wilson won two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies in the society's recent draw.
Submitted Photo

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Stephen’s Backpacks Society for Children in Need kicked off 2013 in a big way.

The local charity helped an Airdrie family of five by delivering and setting up new furniture, clothing, toys and food in their apartment on Jan. 5.

“All I could say was ‘wow’ when I walked in,” said the mother of the family that includes a 17-year-old girl, a three-year-old boy and a one-and-a-half-year-old girl.

“We didn’t know what to expect and it was really cool. I’m still at a loss for words. It was such a great gift that lifted our spirits.”

In 2012, the society helped five families by using donated money and volunteers to furnish their homes and provide food and gifts for them.

Nancy McPhee, director of Stephens Backpacks, said it would not be possible without the organization’s recent partnership with Starbucks.

The coffee shop presented the charity with a cheque for $12,800 of donations on Jan. 5.

“This makes such a huge impact to what we can do in the community,” said McPhee.

“Having a large company like this on board and all of the amazing community members who donate at their local Starbucks, it’s phenomenal.”

McPhee said the money will also be used to furnish another home for a local family in need in the spring.

Cindy Sevel, district manager of Starbucks, said Stephen’s Backpacks Society is a great organization that aligns with the coffee shop’s values.

“When you hear their story, it is hard not to fall in love with them,” she said. “We were overwhelmed by our ability to raise $12,800. It was absolutely inspiring for all of us. It felt really great to help them out. We look forward to our relationship in the future.”

Starbucks also takes part in the charity’s Footprints program over the summer when it collects new shoes for children who can’t afford them for school in the fall.

Sevel said about 80 or 85 stores in Calgary, Airdrie and Red Deer are currently collecting money and items for the Society.

Starbucks is looking into supporting the charity province-wide, she added.

In 2012, the organization collected more than 2,000 shoes and made more than 3,000 backpacks full of supplies for families in need that were delivered over Christmas.

The mother of the local family who received the home makeover said her loved ones would be in a very different place if it weren’t for Stephen’s Backpacks Society.

“Everyone should know they are a great, wonderful organization,” she said. “It is great to have an organization like this in Airdrie.”

Calgary resident Josh Wilson is also singing the society’s praises after winning a trip for two to anywhere WestJet flies in a recent draw.

“I found out on New Year’s Eve and it was amazing,” said Wilson, who entered the draw at the Kensington Starbucks location in Calgary.

“I’m not sure where we will go but it will be somewhere hot.”

Wilson is planning to pay his good fortune forward by donating his talents to the charity.

As a member of the country group the Brant Anderson Band. Wilson hopes to donate his musical talents to the charity for their Canada Day celebrations in Airdrie.

For more information on Stephen’s Backpacks Society, visit


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