Some local students helped give a personal touch to the bags being distributed to people in need this year for the annual Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner.
It was no small feat, as the dinner organizers sent out more than 600 bags containing meals to people throughout the Comox Valley.
Jouska Lockquell, who teaches art at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary, and her family have helped with the dinner in recent years, but this year, with the dinner having to go to the people rather than people coming to the dinner, it seemed like an opportunity to make the meals a little more memorable for the recipients. The school had made decorative bags before for community projects.
In all, she says there were about 90 students helping to design the decorative bags over three days.
“We did it fairly quickly,” she says. “It was like a big production…. The students were amazing.”
One student, Tayler East, who’s in Grade 10, had also been involved with the community event for the past few years, as her family has taken part in the dinner as a way to give back to the community. They also had an in with a family friend organizing the dinner, so it seemed like the obvious thing to do.
“It’s just incredible to see how much of a difference people can make,” she says.
The school project at Isfeld this year though offered East an additional way to help out with the Naswell Dinner. Some students in the class looked online for ideas, she adds.
Some of the bags had familiar Christmas images while others offered different seasonal winter themes or general artistic touches, each different from the next, according to the teacher. Lockquell says the project offered the classes a chance to make a personal connection with the meal recipient in a different way, and in doing so, the work empowered the students about the idea of giving back, especially at a time when so many, including students, can feel socially isolated.
“They‘re craving for connection,” she adds.
East agrees that making the bags for the dinner provided her and her fellow students with their own seasonal joy that can come from helping put a smile on another person’s face. To any other students thinking about ways to get involved, she encourages them to consider something like the community dinner and experience it for themselves.
“Any little thing that you do, it can make such as a great difference in people’s lives,” she says.