In a year when so many things were disrupted by COVID-19, the Everybody Deserves a Smile (EDAS) campaign not only went ahead but exceeded plans to deliver ‘envelopes of love’ to people in need in the Comox Valley and beyond.
Through EDAS, in its 17th year this holiday season, students from 18 partner schools put together small care packages for homeless people. These contained items like hats and gloves, treats and other essential supplies like toothpaste and hand sanitizer. There were plans to distribute about 600 throughout the Comox Valley and more in areas of Victoria and Vancouver.
This year, the students and organizers ended up putting together 1,208 envelopes, which were decorated by students before being filled up and distributed in the days leading up to Christmas.
“We’re really, really proud of our season,” says EDAS founder Chantal Stefan. “The students worked so hard.”
In particular, Stefan credits Comox Valley communities for extra support and inspiration, on behalf of the Puntledge Grade 7 Student EDAS Club, which was the host school this year.
This year, EDAS organizers had to remodel the program to distribute the care packages because of health precautions.
“We weren’t sure we could even do it this year, with COVID, and it’s been our biggest year ever, which is really remarkable,” Stefan says, adding EDAS had four other projects running. “I’m very proud of everybody this year, and the level of love and hard work was extraordinary on our ‘envelopes of love.’”
Stefan chronicled the campaign in some Facebook videos, including one showing the tables full of the care packages spread out on tables through the school gymnasium another showing a trip over to the Lower Mainland to distribute the packages for people on the Downtown Eastside.
“We need to do this work this year more than ever,” she says during the video on the car trip to Vancouver, adding it was incredible to watch students, staff and the greater community come together for the campaign in 2020.
The effort did require some changes this year, she adds. For example, normally they would do a back-alley handout, but due to COVID-19, they had to let shelters distribute the packages. Even when it came to packaging up the items, the EDAS Club had to perform it as one cohort this year, but they pulled together to exceed initial expectations.
“I feel like after experiencing such a powerful season all together, trouble-shooting, revisioning and collaborating, there is nothing we couldn’t make happen for the greater good,” says Stefan.