A charity campaign sparked by a Grade 3 student comes to life at Parkcrest elementary today.
Established in Comox 10 years ago, Everyone Deserves A Smile (EDAS) is a non-profit organization that works with schools to assemble Christmas care packages for people enduring hard times.
Kerri Petrie, a Parkcrest mom who hails from the Comox Valley, is a close friend of the founder, Chantal Stefan. When Stefan visited the Petries in Kamloops last Christmas, the subject of the charity naturally came up.
"My son said, 'Mom, we can do that here,' " Petrie recalled.
School principal Jameel Aziz has been an enthusiastic supporter, she said.
A key distinction from other school charity programs is that the packages are distributed locally, though Petrie doesn't doubt the importance of efforts at other schools in supporting overseas causes.
In this case, the packages will be given out through New Life Mission to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
"That's why Mr. Aziz was so thrilled to take this on, because it supports local charity."
This is the first time EDAS has reached out beyond the Island, Petrie said.
"This is the first year that EDAS is doing one in Kamloops," she said. "That's why it's really exciting."
Starting today, donations are accepted at the school or a Puddle Jumpers Daycare, 725 York St.
The students plan to gather enough donations - they're looking for new woollen socks, toques, mitts, scarves, toothbrushes, toothpaste and bars of soap - to fill 150 care bags. Monetary contributions will be used to supplement donated items. Cheques can be made out to Parkcrest elementary school.
Older students will create hand-painted Christmas cards while their younger peers will paint the bags. Each bag will include homemade sugar cookies.
The deadline is Dec. 6. At a special assembly on Dec. 16, the students will assemble the packages for distribution.
Donations are already coming in, including a generous one from B.C. Adjustment Corp., Petrie said.