Pack­ing sacks for Christ­mas

Cres­cent Col­le­giate’s Al­lied Youth post fills bless­ing bags

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­

What sep­a­rates us from the home­less?

Is it just the four walls that we have but they don’t, or is there some­thing else?

Chances are there are a dozen or so items that widen the gap be­tween home­less­ness and the rest of so­ci­ety. Per­sonal care items, cars, trucks and ac­cess to a steady meal are some of the things that come to mind.

The mem­bers of Cres­cent Col­le­giate’s Al­lied Youth group are aim­ing to fix some of that this hol­i­day sea­son.

In con­junc­tion with the Wise­man Cen­tre in St. John’s, the Blake­town-based group is fill­ing bless­ing bags to give to a se­lect group of home­less men and women who oth­er­wise may not have ac­cess to the items.

On Dec. 3, piled high on a ta­ble in the mid­dle of the room are ev­ery­day items some peo­ple take for granted. Bars of soap, de­odor­ant, tooth­brushes, bot­tles of wa­ter and other per­sonal care items are grouped to­gether just be­fore the 30 or so mem­bers of the Al­lied Youth post started their meet­ing.

Amid mi­crowaves and vend­ing ma­chines in the school’s cafe­te­ria, there are enough to fill 30 sacks in­tended for 26 men and four women this hol­i­day sea­son. The women’s items are placed in purses.

Th­ese bless­ing bags are de­signed to make some­one’s ev­ery­day life eas­ier.

“There are a lot of home­less peo­ple. There are a lot of peo­ple in need and we’re just try­ing to help out,” post pres­i­dent Dakota Clarke told The Com­pass. “We’re try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence for them.”

The Al­lied Youth post at Cres­cent were able to af­ford the items used for the bags with funds at­tained from a haunted house the group ran in Oc­to­ber. They bought all of the ma­te­ri­als and got in con­tact with Kara Crocker of Green’s Har­bour, who has been putting th­ese bags to­gether for the last three years.

“This is our third year, but the first time that (Cres­cent) has helped,” said Crocker. “It’s good on their part. They have a lot of en­ergy them­selves.”

When it was time to fill the bags, the group num­ber­ing 20 or so stu­dents gath­ered around the ta­bles and started reach­ing for the dif­fer­ent items. One by one, the bags were filled and placed on an adjacent ta­ble. Af­ter­wards, cards were signed for each re­cip­i­ent.

“The Wise­man’s Cen­tre will only take 30,” said Crocker. “If we could pack more we would. I have ex­tras left over and on Dec. 18, I will give them out down­town if I have too.” Shock­ing sta­tis­tics The stu­dents were re­quired to do some re­search into the topic of home­less­ness in the New­found­land and Labrador. What they found both sur­prised and shocked them.

They dis­cov­ered that as of 2014, there were 808 peo­ple from this prov­ince liv­ing in home­less fa­cil­i­ties. On top of that, youth be­tween the ages of 16 and 24 make up 30 per cent of the St. john’s home­less pop­u­la­tion.

That works out to be about 231 young peo­ple stay­ing in shel­ters.

“It kind of shocked me a lit­tle bit be­cause … I didn’t re­al­ize how many peo­ple were af­fected by it,” said stu­dent Macy Thorne. “Once you see the num­bers, you really see that it is a re­al­ity for a lot of peo­ple. It’s nice to be able to go and do th­ese things and know what we take for granted can make a big dif­fer­ence.”

Soon schools will break for Christ­mas. Stu­dents will spend plenty of time with friends and fam­ily.

They’ll re­flect on the past year. At least a couple of the AY stu­dents will re­flect on the bless­ing bags and who re­ceived them.

“It gives you that warm feel­ing in­side,” said Clarke.


Mem­bers of Cres­cent Col­le­giate’s Al­lied Youth post fill purses with per­sonal care items dur­ing a re­cent meet­ing on Dec. 3. They in­clude (from left) Dakota Clarke, Claire Pin­sent, Amy Foote, Macy Thorne and Sarak Knight.

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