Cookies were baked, bags were painted, and the assembly line at École Puntledge Park Elementary was well underway Friday morning.
Eight-hundred hand-painted bags filled with warm clothes, toiletries, books, cookies and more will be distributed to those in need in the Comox Valley, Victoria and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as part of the Everybody Deserves a Smile initiative.
“It’s been unbelievable the support we’ve had. We had 11 schools working with us this year,” explained Chantal Stefan, teacher and founder of EDAS.
“They did their own EDAS campaign and awareness within their schools, and what strong leadership came out of that. So then that brought in donations, hand-painted bags and cookies.”
The program has students, community groups and teachers come together to create bags filled with essentials which get distributed to various organizations and the homeless across Vancouver Island and the mainland.
Distribution of the bags began Saturday to nine different locations and agencies in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.
“This is the biggest we’ve ever done,” noted Stefan, and added while Puntledge is the host school, EDAS has had help from Vanier, Cumberland and Isfeld schools.
She also credits the Rotary Club of Cumberland which donated more than 800 books, and all the Valley Rotary clubs which donated a variety of items and financially to the project.
“There’s so much love that has gone into one of those care packages that by the time they’re packaged and delivered, there’s about 22 hands and hearts that have connected with that bag to make it happen — it’s pretty amazing.”
École Puntledge Park Elementary Grade 7 student Eden Martin said it was her first year working the assembly line.
“It means a lot; you’re helping out your community. We’re going to Victoria and Nanaimo and we’re also doing the Comox Valley and it’s really cool because we’re giving back and I’ve never done that before.”