Nanaimo District Secondary students want to bring smiles to the city’s homeless this holiday season.
Members of the student council global committee have joined forces with the non-profit Everybody Deserves a Smile to build 150 care packages for Nanaimo’s homeless in time for the holidays and they’re looking for community donations.
It’s the third year NDSS students have lent a hand to the smile charity by collecting donations of new socks, toques, gloves and mitts, scarves, toothbrushes and toothpaste, creating cards and hand-painting bags.
This year, for the first time, students will also help prepare care packages and bring them to local shelters.
“So we are going to be part of the process from beginning to end,” said Colton Van Der Minne, 17, head of the global committee, who likes the project because it’s a “simple way for people to give to their community and at such an important time of the year.”
Fellow committee member Adwoa Mensah-Agyekum, 15, said the project creates awareness about the holidays and reminds people that not everyone will get something and not everyone is going to a house with food and Clare Shuley, 17, said it takes time but isn’t hard to do and if 150 people can be made happier at Christmas, why not?
New donations are being collected by the committee so it’s like a gift, according to Emma Simard-Proveneal, 17.
“Everything that they’re usually getting is second hand, to have something that is actually only yours … it’s better,” she said.
The holiday effort, to bring handmade care packages to the homeless, happens across Vancouver Island including Nanaimo, where EDAS hopes to hand out 500 bags this year.
Other Nanaimo schools also participate.
Rebecca Hill, Nanaimo project manager of EDAS, says it’s a true community project, with love and compassion at the centre of it. It’s also an empowering experience for young people who are developing leadership skills.
NDSS students’ goal of 150 bags is a “really huge help,” she said. “Although we have donations boxes all over the city, it’s a challenge to get all those items.”
People can bring donations to the NDSS office by Dec. 8.
People can also donate items and cash to EDAS through drop boxes at Steve Marshall Ford, Mon Petit Choux and Rainbow International Restoration.
Packages will be delivered Dec. 16.