“Now, more than ever, our homeless communities need our love and compassion,” says Chantal Stefan, Grade 1 teacher at Puntledge Park Elementary School in the Comox Valley.
Stefan is the visionary behind Everybody Deserves A Smile (EDAS), a project that will provide care packages to people experiencing homelessness in the Campbell River area again this holiday season.
Seventeen years ago, Stefan and a small group of friends came together to bake sugar cookies and package them with love notes to disburse in the back alleys of downtown Edmonton. Those eighty-eight little care packages have grown into nearly 2,000 annual EDAS care packages provided to homeless populations living on Vancouver Island and on the mainland with thousands of students involved in the project since its inception.
EDAS Campbell River is being led by first-year Bachelor of Arts student, Ally Boyd, who is attending university from home due to COVID and who was drawn to the cause after observing its impact last year.
“Watching students give out the packages and seeing the warm response from the people who received them was powerful,” explained Boyd, “Even though I knew the project would be different this year, I wanted to make it happen for everyone involved.”
This year’s packages will be large envelopes decorated by students from Southgate Middle School and a youth group from Bethany Lutheran Church. The envelopes will be filled with a pair of woolen socks, hand sanitizer, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sugar cookies and a homemade Christmas card. Their goal is to create 150 packages within School District 72.
Boyd’s enthusiasm is matched by a small team of volunteers who are leading EDAS in other communities including the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Powell River, Victoria, and Red Deer. The EDAS Society is asking the public for cash donations to facilitate the bulk purchase of the socks and sanitizer. All the other items have been generously donated.
E-transfers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. No password is required. Include “Campbell River” in the note followed by an optional message for the person who will receive the care package. These personal messages will be carefully stuffed into packages to ensure the love that surrounds the vulnerable is felt. Due to COVID-related restrictions, socks or other garment donations cannot be accepted.
For more information, see https://www.facebook.com/edasproject or http://edas.ca/.