Kingston Hockey Teams Support Blessings

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Two local hockey teams took time from their very busy December schedules to gather food and other essentials for needy children in north Kingston. Their efforts did much to support families over the holiday season and raise awareness of food security issues with the players and parents of the teams.

The holiday season is a difficult one for families in need particularly given that there are sixteen days between the end of classes and the beginning of the new term. These children do not have access to their in-school meal programmes during that time and must find support elsewhere. The Kingston Canadians Minor Atom AA Hockey (boys) team collected non-perishable foods for our local elementary school during a hockey tournament they hosted over the weekend of Dec. 20 – 21. They encouraged teams participating to bring donated food. As a result, the Kingston Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack was provided with 62 bags of food and a $200 gift card from Bennett’s ValuMart.

The Ice Wolves Pee Wee AA (girls) Hockey team also contributed to the campaign. Each player and some of the parents filled holiday shoe boxes with essential items for young girls of a similar age. The team got together at the home of Mike and Cathy Wilson to organize and gift wrap the shoe boxes. They also baked cookies to distribute to students at the school.

Both teams learned a lot about the plight of food insecure families in Kingston. The Principal was overjoyed to receive these gifts during the final week of classes and the families could rest a little easier knowing that their cupboards would be filled for the holidays.


Buy a Giveback Pack today!

Giveback Packs on sale now!

A Giveback Pack is a gift bag filled with surprise items sold in support of Blessings in a Backpack.

Giveback Packs are $100, – each one sold feeds a child on the program for a full year. Buy one today for yourself or as a gift. You may get gift items, gift certificates, books, jewelry, gym passes or even Raptors or Leafs tickets!

You can also purchase a raffle ticket for $10 for a 1 in 10 chance of winning a Giveback Pack.
Feed a child in need without having to attend an event or even leave your house.

Each Giveback Pack is unique – what will be in yours? PURCHASE NOW


Helping Hands in Kingston

KingstonThe Blessings in a Backpack chapter in Kingston, Ontario recently benefitted from a generous donation supplied by Union Gas. “Union Gas employees and retirees are committed to working to enrich the quality of life in their communities and one way they do this is through the company’s Helping Hands in Action (HHIA) program. Through the HHIA program, employees, retirees and their families and friends contribute their “sweat equity” to projects that improve, renovate or add tangible value to non-profit and charitable organizations in their communities. In addition, Union Gas and parent company, Spectra Energy, supports these employee-led projects with community improvement grants of up to $1,000 each to purchase supplies and materials for the completion of the projects.” ( Last year, the programme sponsored some 246 projects including the building of playgrounds, camp shelters and walking trails and, in this case, food for children in need at a local elementary school.

Kingston2The donation was received in early November and the funds were used toward the purchase of additional food for the expansion of the existing programme at the school. The team from Union Gas supplied trucks for transporting the food. In addition, four employees and one young lad helped to load and deliver the food that day. The school’s Principal and supervisor were overjoyed to receive the support. Virtually every student in the school depends on the daily meal programme and the food supplied by Blessings in a Backpack on the weekends.

This donation will go a long way in serving the needs of this community. We cannot thank the employees of Union Gas enough!

Paul Elsley – Coordinator – Blessings in a Backpack (Kingston Chapter)


Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament – Big Thank You

Yelizarov14cThe Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament has been a huge supporter of Blessings in a Backpack. Their generosity and ongoing support has raised more than $13,000 dollars for our organization over the last three years. This means that over the last three years, 40 children each year are receiving food on weekends because of the success of this campaign. It also means much more than that. This continuous support has enabled us to grow the program in the region. Last year, we added two new schools in the Vancouver area and plan to start in another two schools this year. We are feeding more than 250 children from nine schools each weekend. This is something that we are very proud of because Vancouver has one of the highest populations of food insecurity in the country. We’re so happy to be able to help these kids in need and could not be doing it without the support of our many volunteers and supporters, including the Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament.


Nobody Says It Better

We are so happy to be helping kids around the country. This is the only thanks we need.






RE/MAX Supports Blessings in a Backpack

RE/MAX groups step up to help hungry children
They’re usually helping people buy or sell homes or retail space, but when the people at RE/MAX heard about Blessings in a Backpack they knew they wanted to get involved. Two Vancouver RE/MAX groups were immediately on board. Because they knew that $100 feeds a kid on the program for a full year, the folks at RE/MAX Property Management and RE/MAX Select Realty generously donated funds to help our efforts. But they wanted to do more.

RE/MAX Property Management were instrumental in helping us expand to two new schools in the Vancouver area. In order to increase our capacity, we found new grocers to source the food but the piece that we were missing was the delivery. The team immediately stepped up to the plate. Each week, a member of the property management team picks the food up from the stores and delivers it to the schools to be distributed to the kids. It’s an incredible commitment, and knowing that 67 children now have food on weekends is all the thank you they needed.

RE/MAX Select Realty held an incredible event where each attendee was asked to bring a bottle of their favourite wine. All the wines were raffled off with proceeds benefiting Blessings.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to both these remarkable RE/MAX teams. You are helping feed the future of Canada.


Volunteer Spotlight: Update on Victoria G-C

The Gift that Keeps on Giving!
by Linda Goytan

VictoriaDuring the season of giving, San Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Elementary School (SLR) in Mississauga surrounded their Christmas tree with 100 backpacks. These were all gifts collected from San Lorenzo Ruiz students for the children in need in the Blessings in a Backpack program.

All of these backpacks were collected during SLR’s 6th annual donation drive from October 1st to October 18th, 2013. Once again, Grade 7 student Victoria G-C organized this event together with these very helpful team leaders: Thea M., Kyle P., Jerald G., Alyssa M., Kristine C., Teresa C., Dale R., Andrew S., Juliane F., Christina A., Victoria V., Alex C., Caitlin F., George C., Arjun L. and Michelle K.

As usual, the entire Blessings Team put forth a lot of effort to encourage backpack donations by promoting the event with colourful posters throughout the school as well as, informative morning announcements and classroom presentations. There was also the opportunity to be entered into the contest draw for a chance to be one of 8 lucky winners of movie gift certificates compliments of Cineplex Entertainment.

According to Victoria, after having five previous years of very successful backpack donation collections, this year’s team leaders were on a mission. They were determined to keep up with that tradition and maintain their goal of collecting 100 backpacks.

Congratulations! Mission accomplished with very special thanks to Kyle P. and Thea M. who were this year’s very generous multiple backpack donors. Also, very special thanks to Cineplex Entertainment for providing the movie gift certificates which encouraged students to participate. Congratulations to all the contest winners and many blessings to the student donors, their families, teachers, office staff, Vice-Principal and Principal of San Lorenzo Ruiz School.

On behalf of the Blessings Team Leaders, they are very pleased and thankful to everyone who contributed in some way to make this year’s donation drive a success. As they look ahead to the next school year, SLR’s Blessings Team will focus on the virtue of hope. Hope that the tradition keeps on going and hope that their backpack gifts are put to use as soon as possible. After all, Blessings in a Backpack really is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving, over and over again, every time it’s filled and re-filled.


ECHOage Spotlight

Since launching our partnership with ECHOage in October 2012, Blessings in a Backpack has raised over $15,000 through 97 birthday parties! This means that thanks to these amazing kids who shared their birthday with us, we were able to provide food on weekends for 150 kids for a year!

What is ECHOage?
ECHOage is a philanthropic party planning service. At an ECHOage party, instead of bringing gifts, guests contribute to a child’s chosen charity and to a group gift for one meaningful item versus many smaller, unwanted ones. The ECHOage service takes care of electronic invitations, RSVPs, and secure payments. Half the funds are distributed to the host’s charity of choice and the other half goes directly to the child. It combines the best of both worlds: birthday children experience the joy of helping others and giving back, while still feeling special with a gift they can choose.

Ryan and Riley
RileyRyan“I like helping kids who don’t have as much food as we do.”

“Food is more important than presents.”

Amazing words from amazing sisters. For Ryan and Riley, supporting Blessings in a Backpack has become a family affair. They were looking for a charity because they wanted to make a difference and help children less fortunate. These kids have already made a meaningful difference in the lives of kids in our program and plan to continue to do so with their upcoming parties. They are true ambassadors for our cause!

jayden party“My 6 year old son, Jayden and I went through the different charities on ECHOage and he picked out Blessings in a Backpack. He wanted to help children who didn’t always have 3 meals a day. We are thrilled to have raised money to support this amazing program and also spread the word to our friends and family.”

“We were happy to have an ECHOage party and Blessings in a Backpack was a charity that Alexandra could readily understand. She commented that it would be awful to go without food and be hungry.”

It’s hard not to be proud of these great kids!
Children of any age can understand what it’s like to be hungry and know how unhappy they would be if they were without consistent access to food. That’s why Blessings in a Backpack is such a great organization for kids to support. And because it only takes $100 to feed a kid on the program for the full year, hosting a Blessings/ECHOage party can really have a measurable impact in the lives of kids in your community.

ECHOage isn’t just for kids anymore
Any party can use ECHOage as a tool for invitations and donations. Planning a retirement event? Is your 40th birthday around the corner? Hosting a dinner party? Encourage your guests to make a donation to Blessings in a Backpack. They can even decide what percentage of the funds will go to the charity up to 100%. Learn more.

2014 and Beyond
We’re hoping for a stellar year with ECHOage this year! Help us spread the word about Blessings in a Backpack and ECHOage. Consider hosting an ECHOage party in support of Blessings in a Backpack in 2014. You’ll be happy you did.


Volunteer Spotlight – Kira T

The Bat Mitzvah Project
Kira’s involvement with Blessings in a Backpack began in Grade 7 with her Bat Mitzvah, but it didn’t stop there. Now in Grade 9, Kira remains passionate about helping the BC Program.

“As part of becoming a Bat Mitzvah, I wanted to get involved in a social action project that benefitted the local community,” says Kira. “I heard about Blessings in a Backpack and thought it was a great cause. I wanted to do something to help hungry children in Vancouver.”

Kira spearheaded a backpack drive at her school and synagogue, and raised 43 backpacks; she helped spread the word about the program through presentations; and she volunteered her time sorting and packing food for the backpacks at two Vancouver schools. But she wanted to do even more.

Kira asked her family and friends to consider a donation to Blessings in a Backpack in lieu of gifts for her Bat Mitzvah. Her goal was to raise enough funds to add 18 more kids to the BC Program for three years. She surpassed that and was able to add 24 more kids to the program. “I was so happy to get so much support,” says Kira. “I know there are many more children who still need help but this was one way I could contribute.”

Susan Fox, Coordinator of the BC Program, can’t say enough about Kira’s decision to harness the power of her Bat Mitzvah to make a difference in her community. “Here’s a girl who was 12 at the time, who asked herself, ‘What can I do?’ and she set out to do it. It’s so impressive,” says Susan. “In addition to adding 24 more kids to the program, I think Kira really sparked interest for other young people to get involved with the program. To me, she’s the face of the future.”

Today the Vancouver Program has 225 kids in six schools and is continuing to gain momentum. Kira likes to be involved, be it spreading the word about Blessings, helping to pack backpacks, or assisting with administration.

“I want to continue to help out as I can,” says Kira, who has learned a lot about the issue of childhood hunger in Vancouver. “I’d like to help the program expand so that we can reach even more kids in our community.”


Project Give Back – Sierra G

Sierra G is in grade 6 and already understands the importance of giving back to her community. In her own words she describes why she chose Blessings in a Backpack as her Project Give Back. Great job, Sierra, and thanks for helping spread the word!