Gospel artists are adding their voices to a local cause that adds comfort during a difficult time.
The Trail Seventh-day Adventist Church, with help from active Castlegar members, has spent the last year bringing local children in need Bags of Love, a care package donated to children who’ve had their lives uprooted.
Peter Makortoff, Leanne Harrison, Rob Green and Jim Halpin are ready to perform a free will donation Gospel Charity Concert at the East Trail church on July 14 at 2 p.m. with all donations going to these hand-sewn, grab bags full of life essentials.
“I just get so excited,” squealed Trail resident Sharon Jackson, as she moves from one end of her basement to the next (nearly every inch storing donations for the cause).
Boxes full of hand-made quilts, donated lightly used stuffies and once loved hot wheel cars are stacked next to organized piles of hygiene materials, story books and more.
Jackson’s basement is where the bags are created with the child’s age in mind (from newborns to 17 year olds). It feels a little like Santa’s workshop, an operation that has brought smiles and comfort in an otherwise dark and confusing time.
“Right now it’s just children and children who are in transition, children who are going to a more secure living environment,” she explained.
“Sometimes when they leave they can’t take a lot of stuff with them so that’s why we give a bag so they’ve got something of their own to take with them.
“It’s like being able to take something that only belongs to them and that they can keep on taking with them.”
Though Bags of Love started as a one-woman project in 2005 through the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kentucky, it has now spread across the United States and has just started to crop up in Canada with five chapters in B.C. and one in Alberta.
When the potential for a Trail chapter presented itself in 2012, Jackson jumped on board. Now serving Trail and Castlegar, she said the overwhelmingly positive response will eventually lead to the expansion into Nelson, Grand Forks and Creston.
Since its inception last year, the local organization has already given out 40 bags.
“It didn’t take long to fill my basement with donations,” said the local coordinator. “People have been so generous and supportive of this ministry.
“The thing they like most about (it) is that the bags stay in the West Kootenay region.”
Locals such as Marcia Michelazzo, who sews most of the organizations quilts, and businesses like Shoppers Drug Mart in Trail, which provides discounted items, are among the many who make this project possible.
“It touches the heart to know that we are able to fill a need in the community and provide something special to the children,” said Jackson.
Volunteers from Trail and Castlegar sew the bags and do ongoing fundraising for the project, which includes rolling their sleeves up at the Robson Flea Market to cook breakfast once a month.
Admission to the concert is by donation with 100 per cent of funds raised going to Bags of Love supplies and goodies.
The community can help with monetary donations or donations of new personal care items (shampoo, toothbrushes, body wash, deodorant), or gently used small toys, books and more.
To donate or get involved contact, Jackson at 364-1265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org