The Backpack Angels: What began as an idea among friends, turned into more than what one NWM team member could have imagined!
This holiday season, Tanya Hughes decided to spread the holiday cheer by collecting and handing out backpacks full of necessities to the homeless people in need.
Tanya put in many long hours to raise funds as well as collect bags and items to fill them with. Familiar with the charitable culture within NWM Tanya reached out to her colleagues for help. What happened next was heart-warming.
The initial vision of collecting a few dozen bags grew exponentially! Thanks to donations from local businesses, along with help of the NWM’s staff, friends, and families, Tanya was able to gather enough supplies for over 200 backpacks! All bags included new hats, socks, scarves, gloves, assorted toiletries, a Tim Hortons gift card, a rain poncho, and hand warmers. Shortly before the NWM offices closed for the holidays, the firm gathered to help fill and prepare the bags for distribution to those in need.
On the morning of December 25th, Tanya and 15 volunteers split into three groups and flooded the streets (and alleys) of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) and Surrey in search of those less fortunate individuals. Approximately half of the bags were given directly into homeless hands and the other half were dropped off and emergency shelters supporting the DTES.
I personally find it very difficult to see people sleeping on the side of a frozen street with nothing. Many factors can contribute to someone being in that position. I have a good deal of respect for anyone that can survive in a situation like that, and am really grateful to everyone who contributed to helping brighten up Christmas morning for many of those people. – Tanya Hughes
The individuals were thankful and thrilled to receive the surprise backpacks. The gifts were truly appreciated and The Backpack Angels initiative was a smashing success.