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Local non-profit organization looking for permanent home again

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 07, 2014 10:23 am

Airdrie’s Stephen’s Backpacks Society that gives thousands of backpacks to those in need, is looking for a permanent homes to house its operations.
Airdrie’s Stephen’s Backpacks Society that gives thousands of backpacks to those in need, is looking for a permanent homes to house its operations.
FILE PHOTO/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie’s own non-profit organization Stephen’s Backpacks Society is looking for a new, permanent home.

Currently the non-profit is set up at on private land, however, the owners of the property are moving east to Saskatchewan and selling the land, according to Stephen’s Backpacks Executive Director Nancy McPhee

“Stephen’s Backpacks is homeless,” said McPhee.

“We’re looking for a warehouse space or a parcel of land, we need a permanent home.”

McPhee said the local organization – which was founded in 2008 after McPhee’s son Stephen told her he wanted to help homeless children - puts together and distributes more than 3,000 backpacks per year. Stephen’s Backpacks Society helps children in need by providing backpacks filled with new school supplies. Since it was founded, the Society has adopted several other projects including the Footprints campaign to collect new shoes for children in need.

The charity has had to move locations several times over the past five years. Operations were moved from a donated 1,500-square-foot space in the Kings Heights area in March 2013 as the company that owned it needed the space back.

“We’re going to need between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet of warehouse space,” McPhee explained. “We are a registered national charity and if anyone could get a hold of us that would be amazing.”

The not-for-profit is in its ninth year and according to McPhee the demand has increased exponentially.

“We’re just taking off to the next level,” she said. “We feel we started in a bath tub and now we’re rowing a battleship.”

Stephen’s Backpacks celebrated Canada Day with its annual fundraiser with a barbecue at the Real Canadian Superstore on July 1.

“The July 1 barbecue was the most amazing we’ve ever had,” she said.

“We made an excess of $10,000, the first year I think we did $600. I wanted to thank everyone that stood in line, thank you to all the citizens of Airdrie who have supported us over the past nine years. It’s takes a community to make dream happen.”

Despite looking for a permanent location, the rest of the year is busy for McPhee and Stephen.

“The Drizzzles candy shop is putting on an amazing barbecue on Aug. 23,” she said. “(Owner Adila Faheem) is just so supportive of community events, she’s just a really humble individual.”

The barbecue will feature Tandori Chicken and according to McPhee, 100 per cent of the proceeds will be going to children in need.

On Aug. 25, 26, and 27 Stephen’s Backpacks will take part in a free kids camp that is run by Rob Allain at Kids Church in Calgary.

“Last year there was 120 kids that took part, we’re anticipating 120 to 150 this year, ” she said. “We provide breakfast snacks, there’s T-ball, basketball, soccer. If they haven’t been to camp to come ours”

In addition, a new children’s book - titled On Eagles Wings Stephen Slays the Dragon - is being published about Stephen’s story and the history behind the organization, set to be released on Oct. 2 at the Royal Oak School in Calgary.

“The children at Royal Oak illustrated this book and it’s going to be very special.” McPhee said. “(At the book launch) we have an air balloon ride to auction off. The book’s front cover was illustrated by artists Rob Fiore which was very special.”

For more information on Stephen’s Backpacks, visit www.stephensbackpacks.com


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