Operation Backpack Update #2-“Maybe a kind gesture can reach a wound that sometimes only compassion can help heal.” ~Steve Maraboli

DSC_0210_5Tis the season….not only for giving and caring,but for all sorts of lovely germs and things! Because a nasty little virus has been making the rounds of the house, this post is overdue! Now that everyone is nearly fully recovered, I’ve got so much to share!

When I first tweeted this out there,I had no idea how it would be embraced or what would happen. But it’s turned out to be one of the most fulfilling  and emotional things I’ve been involved with and continues to be – part of what makes it so wonderful has been the incredible people that I’ve met because of this.

People like Sheila who responded almost immediately and ordered,stuffed and delivered 20 backpacks- 10 for girls, 10 for boys- with her twenty something son… who,she revealed, had offered to pay for half the order when he found out what she was doing. ❤ Each with a Star Wars zipper pull, or some other nifty little critter.  Sheila has an energy you can feel through her emails and her packs were prepared with a compassion and caring I’m sure the new owners will be able to feel.

Or Derek, who with his wife and 4 children, bought and filled their backpacks as a family, considered housing a family in their average home (not workable) and so signed up to mentor for employment instead. ❤ Their children made lovely notes attached to the backpacks of welcome. And  while the care that went into it was again, palpable, meeting Derek and hearing his story was unforgettable.

And meeting all the lovely staff at the office of Special Olympics BC was so special. I arrived expecting  to pick up “A few things”… and ended up with nearly an entire truck full of boxes and bags. All collected, bought, paid for personally by staff who cared. School supplies, water bottles, lunch bags, crafts, backpacks… the list goes on. Books, toys. Compassion. Empathy. Humanity.

There are many more. Every single donation is so valued because it is so personally made. Cash is so impersonal -taking time to buy something is so engaging. And I will never forget the words of Eliot who said: ” I think most people, given the opportunity to do so,are willing to give.”

The key is,providing that opportunity. The lesson is, that we need to continue to give opportunities for people to become engaged and personally invested in giving in our communities.

Right now we have a solid commitment of 180+/- backpacks, and approximately 50 of those are in. ( now 56- see below)  22 + are coming next week from an elementary school in South Surrey, another 100 from an organization in Richmond before mid January.

In fact, as I was writing this, Suzanne dropped off another 6, plus a couple of lovely baby blankets. We have some brand new Quicksilver winter coats, hundreds of stuffed toys and a couple of boxes of school supplies along with a list of volunteers to make it all happen.

I just caught up with emails and Options has a lead on storage for all this now – they will be distributing them to their new clients coming in for settlement services in the coming weeks and months. But we are still accepting donations of backpacks, school supplies and gloves/toques. If there is an excess of what is required to welcome Syrian children to Surrey, they will be shared with other communities. : )

It feels good to give where you live. Last week I had a personal tour of Options in Newton, and my heart was full to see all that they do beyond immigrant and refugee services. They truly are the heart of our community and others, supported by the people and businesses within them.

As we see the news of incoming families from Syria, ecstatic to be here in Canada, I am thrilled to see that love has indeed, won over hate. That we  as Canadians have come together to welcome those embarking on an incredible new path that most of us can’t fathom, unless  you’ve come from immigrant or refugee roots.

There is more that binds us, than separates us. And it is that vein we say to all Syrian refugees entering Canada: ” My country, is now your country.” 

Welcome friends. Ahlan wa sahlan.

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