Student led organization starts a donation drive to help homeless youth in the community

Bags of Promise (BOP), a nonprofit organization, kickstart a donation drive of backpacks with hygiene products, non-perishable food items, snacks, school supplies, and other necessities to distribute to youth shelters in Kingston area.

In the Spring of 2021, Brooke Baker (she/her) from the Royal Military College and Celina Lovisotto (she/her) from Queen's University started BOP to assist homeless youth by providing them with reusable bags filled with necessities. 

Having lived experience of homelessness, Baker realized how important it is to address issues and societal barriers among homeless youth. She even found it difficult to share her story with others as a new first-year student in Kingston until she found Lovisotto. They both realized how important it is to address the issues around homelessness and provide avenues for youth to express themselves. The same realization sparked the idea of Bags of Promise, which has flourished into a student-run organization operating around three pillars; advocacy, service and education. 

According to the National Youth Homelessness Survey, 20% of Canada's homeless population consists of youth aged 13 to 24, which means at least 35,000-40,000 youth experience homelessness at any given time across the country. Many youth experiencing homelessness move between housing situations such as shelters, staying with friends, vehicles, hotels, and the street. While transitioning between living situations, many youths carry their belongings in a trash bag. 

The organization's mission statement states, "At Bags of Promise, we believe that their belongings are not trash, and neither are they. Everyone deserves to feel dignified and worthy, no matter their circumstance, which is why we want to eliminate trash bags for homeless youth and replace them with BOP. BOP or Bags of Promise are reusable bags containing the essentials such as hygiene items, non-perishable food items, and other necessities to help alleviate stress during difficult times." 

The first bag distribution drive is on February 5. 2022, from 2 p.m-4 p.m. 

"We have reached our goal of collecting over 50 backpacks and bags and will be filling them with essential items along with distributing them to the shelter at that time," Baker said. 

BOP has also partnered with and received donations from companies such as LUSH Cosmetics, Klean Kanteen, Roots Canada, Pure Balanxed, Finder's Keepers, along with receiving local donations that have contributed to filling the bags. 

"We hope that this bag drive will make a difference for youths in the shelter as they begin to transition into permanent housing solutions," Baker added. 

Lovisotto and Baker, the co-founders and president of BOP, commit to increasing awareness about homeless youth so that no child is left behind, and neither are their belongings. 

If you wish to make any donations of gently used backpacks/bags or other necessities for this upcoming bag drive, please email at [email protected], and they will arrange for drop-off/pick-up.