Operation Backpack

During the recent federal election,frustrated by the divisive politics that seemed destined to separate a nation of very good people,I sat down to write this post:

Today, I have chosen to be thankful for this heart wrenching political divisiveness because it gives us the opportunity as a nation to decide what kind of country we want to be. The only positive in this is that we now have the chance to define ourselves as Canadians. And I trust we will rise above it all and show the world who we really are.

It’s time now to put that to action.
I’ve been thinking about this idea since I heard how many Syrian refugees were intended to settle in the city where I live, Surrey. More so, my thought was immediately of the children coming,estimated to be at about 500.

While there are valid concerns about space in classes, funding etc – and Mr. Trudeau, if you are reading, we do need more funds in Surrey yesterday thankyouverymuch- these concerns pale in comparison to the concerns of the children coming to our city.

These children did not ask to be born into a country  where bombs are a regular part of life. Where being scared all the time is something you just get used to, because that is what war means …. where families are torn apart. Refugee camps. This breaks my heart. They have been through hell.

While we cannot change what they have been through, we can change their experience going forward as they come to a new country. And tonight,seeing news of the imminent arrivals,many of us knew we had to act.

Enter, ‘Operation Backpack’.

My first thought was not of where they will sleep or what they will eat- that will be taken care of. My first thought was of these children being able to feel at home, to feel like they are welcome, valued and that they have the basic tools to … well.. be kids.

To me, that means at least having a backpack to get started. A place to carry your ‘stuff’.  Basic school supplies. Crayons. Pencil crayons. Pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, drawing paper… and a stuffie to hold when new places, people and experiences change your world forever.

Familiar items most kids take for granted, but to a newcomer who has been through many changes and hardships, perhaps a bit of stability and welcome to know they are valued, appreciated and welcomed. And I like to think that since most of us come from families of immigrants, we welcome all in this great land that openly welcomed us. These backpacks would be something tangible children can take where-ever they go.

I would love to see this happen in every community across Canada that is welcoming refugees fleeing a country so war torn it is hard to identify at times, but I’ll be concentrating on  trying to get this happening in Surrey.

This is something anyone can do. Start with a backpack, fill it with supplies and drop it with whatever local agency or organization is helping settle the incoming families in your area.

I have no idea where this will go, but this is what is needed and anyone wanting to help out, please email me!

Contact me: lailayuile@live.com


backpacks, non gender specific.


pencil cases

crayons.pencil crayons, pens,pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, binders etc. Basic items most kids/teens can use for school and to pass time outside of school. Colouring books?

stuffed animals – small enough to fit in the backpack.

stretchy gloves & toques for winter



The facts of life are that a child who has seen war cannot be compared with a child who doesn’t know what war is except from television.

~Sophia Loren





15 thoughts on “Operation Backpack

  1. What a wonderful and useful initiative!! I am definitely interested in offering supplies and am interested in other ways I can be of help as well. Perhaps with deliveries of these items. Please email me with any further info. Thanks!


    1. An email is on its way Sheila, thank you! So far we have some residents of Surrey donating backpacks and supplies,Telus is working on some stuffies, but we still need backpacks.Doesn’t have to be anything fancy,just a good basic backpack to put stuff into.

      I was just on CKNW at 3:53, so a big thanks to them for helping get the word out.


  2. Hi Laila, I was just getting some boxes together of my daughters clothes and other items. There are a couple of backpacks that I would like to donate to you. I will try to get some supplies to put into them. Just let me know where to drop them off… I live in Langley.


  3. I had lots of enjoyment this weekend getting 2 backpacks ( one for a teen, one for a child) and filling them with the things on your list. Should they just be dropped off at the refugee support centre?


    1. You can do that, or email me and we are waiting to hear what the best conduit is to get them directly to kids asap when they arrive! We already have had some deliveries come in,more expected this weekend and next week! So happy to hear it was enjoyable for you too !


  4. Hi again Laila… I know you’re a busy lady but I have the 20 backpacks filled and ready to deliver!! (They’re in the middle of my livingroom right now…lol) Just wondering where I can drop them off in the next couple of days!! I also sent you an email. Thanks!!!


    1. Hi Pat, Karen!

      We don’t take credit card donations and we haven’t taken any cash donations either – everything has been purchased and donated in product directly. If you like,you can get one together when you get back or if you really want to help get a super program that helps directly, this link has a donation page for Options Community Services -they are providing front line services for Syrian refugees ( an others) coming into Surrey. http://www.options.bc.ca/home/help-syrian-refugees


Comments are closed.