It may look like an assembly line, but workers are in their pyjamas, music is playing, and laughter and smiles abound.
Students from École Puntledge Park Elementary took to the gym Friday to package more than 650 bags filled with warm clothes, toiletries, cookies and more to hand out to those less fortunate in the Comox Valley, Victoria and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
“In the past six weeks, the kids have been painting bags, making homemade cards and basically the community has been helping collect donations,” explained Chantal Stefan, teacher and founder of Everyone Deserves A Smile.
“We’ve had seven different schools help out … and all of the community … have all stepped forward (with) donations. It’s been really mind-blowing.”
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.
Stefan said although it’s taken more than six weeks to organize and plan the program — which is entering its 11th year — is extremely worthwhile.
“We’re handing that bag of love with so many hands and hearts, it’s pure magic. It’s connecting with humanity at its core, and it makes it all worthwhile. This project is just about stepping up and helping each other out.”
On Monday, 17 students who have been running the full assembly line delivered packages to the AIDS society, handed out bags in Nanaimo and received a soup kitchen tour.
Maia Stotehrt, a student who has been working on the EDAS project for six weeks said she wanted to find a way to help.
“One of my mom’s friends has depression and so it’s been hard for him to find a job. I really wanted to do something to help. I figured EDAS would be a great way to get an idea of what I can do and make a difference.”
She said during the six weeks she’s talked a lot with others about compassion and learned why it’s important to help others.
“Homeless people aren’t bad people, they’ve just had something that’s happened to them that isn’t a good thing.”