Students at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary kicked off the Everybody Deserves A Smile (EDAS) campaign in 2019. Scott Stanfield photo

Students at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary kicked off the Everybody Deserves A Smile (EDAS) campaign in 2019. Scott Stanfield photo

Everybody Deserves a Smile campaign adapts to COVID-19 challenges

“We didn’t want to lose our heartfelt hands-on approach.”

A year living with a pandemic presents different challenges but it won’t stop a growing community organization that assists in putting together care packages to be delivered to those living on the streets in the Comox Valley and beyond.

Everybody Deserves a Smile campaign is underway again but will look a little bit different, explained EDAS founder Chantal Stefan alongside EDAS team member Leanne Zdebiak-Eni and owner of Studio IPF in a video posted to social media this weekend.

Entering into their 17th season, the organization is facing what Stefan called “a huge remodel for COVID-19.” The team had to take another look at how the year would look, what the ask is to the community and how people can get involved.

“We didn’t want to lose our heartfelt hands-on approach – that’s one of our greatest blessings from our students – but how do we do that with COVID-19? We came up with a new idea … we had to make this year easier for our teachers and custodians and more financially sustainable for our local businesses and everyone who contributes,” she explained.

RELATED: Everybody Deserves a Smile’s 2019 campaign coming to fruition

Traditionally, students within the Comox Valley decorate cards and bags and fill them with cookies, treats, supplies, warms socks and more to create care packages that are delivered to about 600 people living on the street within the Valley prior to Christmas. The EDAS team also blankets Victora and Vancouver and beyond.

Stefan noted this year, the team didn’t want to lose the heartfelt, hands-on approach from the personal touches.

“Having to bag the homemade card is what connects with our homeless population over and over again. It’s what opens people’s hearts and brings tears because people can’t believe our kids took the time to fill this. We didn’t want to lose that. That’s one of our greatest blessings from our students, but how do we do that with COVID-19? We came up with a new idea … we had to make this year easier for our teachers and custodians and more financially sustainable for our local businesses and everyone who contributes.”

This year, students can decorate envelopes that will be filled with supplies such as woolen socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, cookies and more.

Stefan said EDAS understands that families have lost jobs, local businesses are struggling and the organization wanted to honour the current situation.

Therefore, their ask this year is different.

“People still want to give which is remarkable. Instead of the nine items, we’re only asking for help with one which is woolen socks. If you give us a financial donation … we will do the shopping for you; we cannot have drop-offs (due to COVID-19).”

EDAS is working with a wholesale company to obtain the socks and will accept e-transfers, cheques or cash donations. If donors would like to include a note for those receiving the envelopes, they can do so with their donations, and the note will be attached to the package.

“We have increased our volunteer commitment to have that going on – it’s an extra layer of love going out with that donation,” said Stefan.

EDAS is again aiming to distribute 600 care packages within the Valley and more throughout Victoria, B.C. and Alberta. Their official start to the campaign will begin after Remembrance Day, but cash or cheque donations can be dropped off or mailed to Studio IPF at 303B 13th Street, Courtenay, B.C. V9N 9G5 or call 250-703-2673 to arrange a time to drop off a donation. E-transfers can be sent to (no password required).

Packaging day for the envelopes is set for Dec. 11 at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary.

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