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BGC Kamloops Backpacks help fill Youth Pandemic Pantry

BGC Kamloops Backpacks help fill Youth Pandemic Pantry


Youth carrying backpacks is a common sight but for some local youth, some backpacks make the difference between going hungry during the week or not. BGC Kamloops (formerly known as Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops) has long been giving backpacks full of food and hygiene supplies to youth ages 11-24 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need has increased dramatically.


“Pre-pandemic we gave out, at most, 10 hampers a month. Now we give out easily 40 hampers a month, which is why we are making this call for donations,” says Abby Smith, youth programs leader.


BGC Kamloops is asking for donations to help fill backpacks for the Christmas break.


The weekly backpacks are full of items like laundry pods, toilet paper, other cleaning materials, personal hygiene products, and non-perishable food items. The average cost per backpack is $15 and it can make a huge difference for youth.


“Youth self-identify their needs. If someone wants granola bars or a package of toilet paper, we do not question it. It’s not for us to determine if they need it or not. It’s up to us that they get it,” says Smith adding that the pandemic has increased food insecurity in youth and it has hit the larger population.


“We know that some youth have never experienced food insecurity before and the pandemic exposed them and their families to gaps in income and food. There’s sometimes a stigma attached with accessing help and this is a discreet way of getting supplies to youth. We also know that youth who might be couch-surfing or do not have proper ID can be denied services and we don’t deny anyone from getting what they need,” says Smith.


“Literally anyone between ages 11 to 24 who has a name and a birthdate can come and get what they need,” she says.


BGC Kamloops has set up a box in the lobby of the John Tod Centre to collect donations of non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products to fill the backpacks.


“Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and school snacks like granola bars are big items right now. And we found a shelf-stable margarine and a milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until it’s opened. That’s huge because while we get lots of Kraft Dinner, it’s hard to make without these items,” says Smith.


Donations can be made at the John Tod Centre at 150 Wood St or through the website at www.bgckamloops.com/donate


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