Everybody Deserves a Smile project provides necessities to homeless people in Powell River

Program collects donations for distribution to those in need

Powell River Kindness Care Package Project has initiated the Everybody Deserves a Smile (EDAS) program to provide the homeless with care packages this December.

The objective is to assemble 150 care packages, containing toques, scarves, gloves, wool socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and feminine products, topped off with cookies, that will be distributed to those who are less fortunate.

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Partnering in the project are Henderson Elementary School, School District 47, First Credit Union, the Rotary Clubs of Powell River, Brooks Interact Club, Powell River United Church and City of Powell River. Donations can be dropped off at Henderson School, First Credit Union, Brooks Secondary School, Powell River Recreation Complex, RE/MAX Powell River, City Hall, Powell River Public Library, the United Church and Knitter’s Nest in Townsite Market.

Ally Boyd, president of the Brooks Interact Club, which is sponsored by Powell River’s Rotary Clubs, said the commitment of participants in the program is amazing.

“It was actually easier than you would think, because so many people now, with everything that has happened, have identified this issue of homelessness in Powell River and acknowledge it a lot more,” said Boyd. “The conversations are there, so it’s a matter of having people onboard. It actually came together amazingly.”

Donations have started coming in. All of the donation bins are now out in the community.

Boyd said EDAS organizers are hearing from groups aside from the sponsors that have reached out and are starting to take up their own collections at their workplaces or organizations. She said people are asking EDAS organizers to let them know what they need and the groups will do their best to help.

“Donations have started to come in and as it gets closer and there is more awareness brought to the project, I think donations will start to come in more,” said Boyd. “I’m excited for that.”

As well as donations of materials, cash donations can be made by e-transfer to theedasproject@gmail.com

Boyd said all of the money donated through the e-transfers will stay in Powell River. The money will go toward putting care packages together, she added.

“If we come up short a couple of pairs of socks we can go buy a couple of pairs,” said Boyd. “It’s just another way for anyone who wants to help in any way, shape or form.”

She said she doesn’t think there is any better time than Christmastime to bring this project forward.

“Conversations have started and people are acknowledging homelessness,” said Boyd. “Having a project helps with the conversation and tackle the issues. People can have a hand in that and do something.

“It’s getting cold out and we know that. Having that little piece of what we can give to help the homeless is important. They are as much of a person as you are I. They are human.”

Boyd said she is extremely excited that the program has come to Powell River because she strongly believes there is no better time to start tackling this issue.

She added that she is pleased the youth of the community are coming together as active participants in EDAS. She said Henderson students will be putting time and energy into putting together the bags for the homeless, personalizing a card and decorating the sugar cookies that will be given out.

Boyd said in other communities where the project is already operating, people hold onto the bags that have been put together for them.

“There was a man who would come back for one and he had all his bags from previous years because that’s how much it meant to him,” said Boyd. “Letting the kids know what they are doing has an impact, and letting them know they have a sense of community and the power to make a change is important. Your age doesn’t matter. You can make a difference.

“Having all those kids step up into leadership and responsibility, no matter what their age, has been absolutely amazing.”

Henderson Elementary School will be the bagging site on December 17. For people who have been there for the whole process, bagging is where it starts to pay off, said Boyd. It’s also a moment for the dignitaries who will attend to help with the bagging to really see the project come together and interact with the kids who have been there since the start, she added.

“The actual impact of the bagging day after the entire process that comes before it is going to blow my mind,” said Boyd. “I am so excited to see how Henderson goes about it and really see it all come together.”

Most of the bags will be distributed through the Community Resource Centre’s annual Christmas lunch, and the Salvation Army and cold weather shelter will take excess bags if there are any available.

Boyd wanted to thank the community because the support, she said, has already been overwhelming.

 
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