COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – Comox Valley students are helping out the homeless this holiday season.

The Everybody Deserves a Smile campaign is back on this year, based out of Courtenay’s École Puntledge Park Elementary, with other local schools taking part.

The annual program has students putting packages together for people living on the streets in the community, across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Students hand paint the bags and collect items from residents.

“This is an organization to help the homeless and make them happy, and let them know that they matter,” said Cassie Chard, a grade seven student at the school.

“It’s important at Christmas time to spread that holiday cheer, so what we do through the EDAS club is collect donations of toques, mittens, scarves, socks, along with soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste and even homemade cookies, and we hand those out to homeless people at Christmas time to spread the joy,” said Kim Marks, a teacher at École Puntledge Park.

A poster for the event, courtesy Chantal Stefan.

Residents can drop off their donations at the school, or a number of partnering drop-off locations, including the Lewis Centre.

“In our school, we paint the bags, make cards and put stuff into the bags…and then the EDAS club goes down to Victoria, Nanaimo and we also go to a lot of shelters (to drop off the packages),” said grade seven student Celie Lacasse.

“You can see examples of the hand painted bags at the drop off locations at RE/MAX (Courtenay) and Comox Rec (Centre). They’re gorgeous bags that have been created with great love and intention on the part of our students,” Marks added.

The following is a full list of the item drop-off locations:
• Comox Community Centre
• Comox Library
• Lewis Centre
• Broken Spoke
• Florence Filberg Centre
• School District 71 office, Courtenay
• RE/MAX Courtenay location
• Cumberland Library
• Seeds Food Market

Donations are accepted until December 10th. Following the collection and preparation of care packages, the bags will be delivered by the EDAS club to people in need across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

More details about the program can be found at edas.ca, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.