5,000 Backpacks Donated

Blessings in a Backpack is extremely grateful for the generous donation of 5,000 backpacks by Lesleigh B.  A lifelong Hilary Duff fan, Lesleigh loves what the Blessings in a Backpack program stands for.  She is proud to give back to her community and to others less fortunate, and we are proud of Lesleigh.

Lesleigh presents a backpack to Barry Segal


Blessings in a Backpack Keeps Inner City Kids Fed on Weekends


In a small room hidden in the basement of Florence Nightingale Elementary, Susan Fox prepares dozens of backpacks for some of Mt. Pleasant community’s neediest children. Each Thursday, Fox arrives at  8:30 AM and begins the process of packing fruit, pasta, noodles, bread and other basics in small backpacks for the children at Nightingale and Mt. Pleasant school.

Fox says the food needs to be easy to prepare, shelf-stable, kid friendly and as nutritious as possible. All the backpacks need to be ready for their Friday pick up at the end of the school day and the beginning of the weekend.

Fox started the Vancouver branch of Blessings in a Backpack Canada which runs similarly to the popular US program Blessings in a Backpack in January 2011. At the time, she committed $5,000 per year to pay for all the food out of her own pocket and supported two schools and 52 students. Since then, the program has grown to four schools and 116 kids. A local grocer sells Fox the food at cost to support her drive. Next September, Fox aims to expand again servicing an additional 194 students.

She says the food is critical for many students who sometimes have little to eat during the weekend. She keeps the food staples consistent so the students always know they can depend on opening their backpack and having a meal.

“It’s like a security blanket for the kids,” Fox said.

Florence Nightingale Principal Jenny Chin Petersen says the Blessings in a Backpack program has made a significant difference in the lives of many of her students.  “Lots of kids go home and have nothing to eat when they run out of food.  With this program, some of our students are arriving much happier and ready to learn.”

To read the Vancouver Sun story about Susan Fox and Blessings in a Backpack


Richmond Charity Hockey Tournament Expands Its Reach


In keeping with its mandate, the eighth annual Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament, on Aug. 19 at the Richmond oval, has introduced a new nonprofit organization to support — Blessings in a Backpack.

“Vancouver District 39 is spearheading this initiative,” said the late Noah’s father, Michael Yelizarov, about why the committee chose to fund Blessings in a Backpack.

Susan Fox, the founder of the Vancouver branch of Blessings in a Backpack, is grateful for the financial support.
The Canadian-based food distribution charity provides backpacks filled with nutritious food for children in inner city elementary schools to take home on weekends.

Fox read about how many B.C. children were going to school hungry and she knew she had to act.

“I found the program online and saw that it was now in Ontario so I made some phone calls and decided to bring it here to Vancouver,” said Fox.

She, along with her husband Nathan Fox, personally committed $5,000 each year for five years to feed as many inner city children as they could. Along the way, individuals, friends and corporations have come on board with donations.

Fox started with 50 children. This fall, the program will feed 320 children at four schools.

Not long after losing their son Noah from electrocution in a tragic accident in Thailand in October 2004, the Yelizarovs turned their grief into action.

Given the generous and kind heart of their 18-year-old son, they knew Noah would have approved of the idea of a fundraiser that would benefit children.

“Noah was a kid at heart himself and always eager to play hockey with the younger kids,” said his father. “Losing a child makes you want to do things for kids. I like the idea of helping kids that need help.”

Thus, was born the Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament. To date, the fundraiser has raised more than $160,000, all of which benefited BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place and H.E.R.O.S.

Last year, more than 500 people took part in the fundraiser honouring Noah, which moved into its new home, the Richmond oval.

With the sponsorship of White Spot Triple O’s, incredible auction items and a beverage garden with a professional DJ, this year’s tournament promises to be bigger and better.

The event happens Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Richmond oval. Games start at noon, as does the beverage garden (serving beer and wine). There will also be a dunk tank.

Silent auction items include a round trip Via Rail gold class to Jasper plus accommodations and breakfast for two (approximately $5,100), a three-night stay with breakfast included at Tofino’s Long Beach Lodge (worth $1,000), a weekend use of a new 2012 BMW 5 Series sedan (worth $795), lots of other great trips, jewelry, restaurant gift certificates and much more.

For more information, visit www.noahmemorialhockey.ca. For more information about Blessings in a Backpack, visit http://blessingsinabackpack.ca.

© Copyright (c) Richmond News


Volunteer Spotlight: Victoria G-C

A Caring Heart in Mississauga
By: Angela McLean

Victoria G-C is a caring and compassionate student in Grade 5 at San Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Elementary School in Mississauga, Canada. She was inspired to start a backpack raiser in support of Blessings in a Backpack after donating a backpack to a previous raiser and learning about the program.

Adding her own twist to the idea, Victoria decided to have a backpack collection contest. As a donation incentive, each student who gave a backpack would be entered to win a movie gift certificate. With her mom’s support, she talked to her school’s principal and vice-principal who agreed to the idea. Victoria made announcements and told classmates about her backpack raiser which was held for two weeks around a Thanksgiving food drive. Victoria was very happy to see the backpacks flow in, with some people even donating more than one!

The school’s Vice-Principal was very proud of the results and when asked about the Blessings in a Backpack raiser at his school he said:

“At our school, teachers and administrators ensure that learning is infused with opportunities to explore what it means to be an active, caring and committed member of our community. Understanding that Blessings in a Backpack is a program aimed at supporting some of our community’s most vulnerable members, San Lorenzo Ruiz school viewed this year’s ‘raiser’ as another wonderful opportunity to grow in our understanding of what it means to be truly engaged as global citizens.”

It was a victory for Victoria!

Victoria already has plans to continue helping Blessings in a Backpack by organizing another backpack raiser next year, hopefully raising even more backpacks!

Congratulations Victoria and many thanks to San Lorenzo Ruiz School!


Volunteer Spotlight: Grace Broadley

Fern Hill’s Amazing Backpack Raiser
By: Angela McLean

Grace Broadley is 12 years old and in grade 6 at Fern Hill School in Oakville, Ontario. Grace has big ideas and a big heart and is always ready to help when an event needs to be organized.

In September 2010, Grace and some of her friends from school attended We Day in Toronto. They heard many speakers and listened as the ‘Me to We’ team shared personal experiences and explained their motto: ‘it only takes one small act to make a difference’.

Grace and her friends came away from We Day with the inspiration to organize something that would give back to the community in some way. So, when Grace heard about Blessings in a Backpack and their mission – to feed hungry kids on weekends – she was immediately inspired. So, with the help of her friend Atiya who is 11 years old and also in grade 6 and Ashlan who is 9 years old and in grade 3, Grace started to organize a Backpack Raiser in support of Blessings in Backpack. First things first, they needed permission from the Junior Head of School and from the teacher who coordinates school fundraisers. They both said ‘yes’ and the girls got to work.

The girls made announcements at daily school assemblies and made posters. As well, the school sent an email to parents about the Backpack Raiser. Then, during the Raiser, the girls located themselves in the front foyer every morning and afternoon as a reminder to students.

In the end, the Backpack Raiser was a GIANT SUCCESS! Grace and her friends raised over 150 backpacks! Way to go Grace, Atiya, and Ashlan and many thanks to Fern Hill School!


Blessings &A Boutique

National Post (Weekend Post) – Amoryn Engel – “Yummy mummies were recently out in force to support a great cause at Nicole Bitove’s treasure trove, Canopy Blue. Denim and bling were the thing as Bitove, a Ford model who has always had her finger on the pulse of what’s hot, hosted an array of perfectly put-together uptown girls who bought up a storm, with some of the proceeds going to Blessings in a Backpack, a program that feeds elementary school children who may not have enough food on the weekend. A donation of $100 will provide a backpack to one child each weekend for an entire school year…”

Click here to read the rest of the article on the National Post.


U of T Bookstore partners with Blessings in a Backpack

Starting April 1st 2011, U of T Bookstore partners with Blessings in a Backpack to collect used backpacks for a 10% discount on items in the bookstore.


West Coast School Pilot Program

Local Vancouver resident Susan Fox has generously sponsored our first school on the West Coast! Two pilot programs launched in January in schools that will provide food-filled backpacks to over 50 schoolchildren for the balance of the school year as we begin our first-ever British Columbia program. A warm thank you from all our students to Susan Fox for her generosity and kindness. Pictured here (L to R: Stan Curtis, Blessings in a Backpack founder in the USA and Susan Fox, together with school administrators in Vancouver.)


Thank you MAZON Canada

We received a $1,000 Grant in December 2010 from MAZON Canada – thank you for helping us feed 10 more hungry kids!


Pepsi Refresh Challenge

Windsor area lawyer Colleen Caza enters Blessings In A Backpack in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge – a chance to win $5000 grant for her charity of choice. Please go to http://www.refresheverything.ca/backpacksforhungrychildren to vote – and please vote every day so we can win!