Nanaimo students hope the care packages they helped assemble bring a smile to the faces of the less fortunate this holiday season.
The Everyone Deserves a Smile project sees items like toques, scarves, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mittens and socks collected, packaged in a painted bag and distributed to people experiencing homelessness. Nanaimo District Secondary School acted as a hub for the project this year and on Wednesday morning, leadership class students put together packages. According to Elise Therrien, Grade 12 student and Nanaimo project lead, it was a learning experience.
“I think mostly what we’re learning throughout this project is selflessness and compassion and giving back to others, especially during Christmas time, where I think it’s really important to make life easier for people who are in need and especially in Nanaimo where homelessness in a huge issue,” said Therrien. “I think it’s really important that our school is doing this to raise awareness about that issue.”
Therrien said a 400-gift pack goal was expected to be met and area charitable organizations were set to receive them Thursday and Friday.
“We have five different shelters in Nanaimo that we’re delivering to,” said Therrien. “Our biggest ones are the [Nanaimo 7-10 Club], which wanted about 180 bags, and the New Hope Centre, which wanted 150 bags.”
Samaritan House and Wesley Street supportive housing and Value Lodge motel were others receiving bags, Therrien said.
Geoff Steel, NDSS principal, said it is gratifying to see students teaming to give back to the community.
“There’s pride in the community service that our students are spearheading and it shows that they have a social conscience and they care about our community and NDSS, we’re named after Nanaimo, and we take that very seriously,” said Steel.
The original Everyone Deserves a Smile project began in Edmonton in 2003.