Packing sacks for Christmas
Crescent Collegiate’s Allied Youth post fills blessing bags
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.