Back to school season is looming and a trip to the store to buy school supplies is routine for many, however for some families it’s just not financially possible.
That’s where Stephen’s Backpacks comes in. The organization helps pack backpacks with everything from school supplies to running shoes to give to the less fortunate.
The charity was started back in 2006 by Jim and Nancy McPhee after their son Stephen, who is diagnosed with autism, became aware that there were children who were living in poverty.
Nancy who is the executive director of Stephen’s backpacks says with the economic downturn and the fire Fort McMurray, this year the goal is to pack 2500 backpacks.
“Stephen’s Backpacks has only done back to school backpacks in very small amounts over the years when we’ve had extra supplies I think the most we’ve ever done is 400. When this tragedy hit in Fort McMurray Stephen was really upset by it because some of the students came to his school and he talked to them and he felt really, really sad. He said “Mom, we have to do something” and I said “Okay what do you want to do” and he said “We need to do backpacks but they’re going to need them to go back to school”.”
The 2500 back to school packs will be distributed to multiple schools and shelters in Calgary and surrounding areas, kids in Fort McMurray, as well as a couple of nearby First Nations communities.
Nancy notes that it’s amazing how far Stephen has taken the charity since it’s inception.
“Ten years later we’re a national charity, he’s helped over 35,000 kids across Alberta and Saskatchewan, we have an office in Saskatchewan, he’s helped 30 families out of shelters completely furnishing their apartments and over 10,000 pairs of new running shoes. This is just a seed planted by a little boy who heard a conversation and said “This isn’t right”. And in 10 years, Stephen has never lost is passion. Ever.”
Donations of cash and/or new school supplies are still being accepted. If you would like to donate you can click here.