Ten years ago, Chantal Stefan and three friends assembled 80 small packages of sugar cookies and hung them on dumpsters in the back alleys of Edmonton. By morning, the packages were all gone.
So began the Everybody Deserves a Smile (EDAS) program, which this year has expanded through western Canadian school systems to John Howitt Elementary in Port Alberni.
Teacher Jennifer Gray met Stefan while attending Vancouver Island University, in the teaching program, and started helping with the smile program.
“What we’re so excited about is through this project we’re able to teach so many students the power of empathy,” Gray said.
Students at John Howitt will make 190 care packages—one per student—and put them in hand-painted bags with homemade cards. In Port Alberni, the smile bags will be distributed through Port Alberni Shelter and Bread of Life.
Each bag will have woolen socks, mittens, scarves, toques, toothpaste and toothbrush.
Drop boxes for Everybody Deserves a Smile are at Echo Centre, Trends Design Team on Margaret Street and John Howitt Elementary School. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 13. Please contact Jennifer Gray at 250-735-5481.