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Airdrie newcomer donates to homeless during pandemic

An Airdrie resident and newcomer to Canada who has faced struggles on his pathway to citizenship hopes to inspire others with an unwavering dedication to charitable efforts.

An Airdrie resident and newcomer to Canada who has faced struggles on his pathway to citizenship hopes to inspire others with an unwavering dedication to charitable efforts.

Deepak Thapar began donating safety gear, food, and clothing to the homeless at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Thapar, his journey to help others began after he moved to Canada in 2012 from his beloved home country of India, where a fast-growing population and lack of resources result in high levels of poverty and homelessness.

“Then I moved here, I feel like I faced so many hurdles in my life,” Thapar said, adding he always lent a hand to those that he saw were treated as outcasts. “Those challenges I have overcome, and I’m always thinking to do something for others – for homeless people [especially].

“As an immigrant, there was a lot of struggle and challenges I faced. I always try to help homeless and needy people.”

Approximately two years ago, Thapar was living in Toronto, where he saw many homeless people who were without personal protective equipment (PPE) during the early months of the pandemic, when there was a shortage of masks and hand sanitizer across the country.

“What we decided is we’re going to put these PPE kits together and distribute them to the homeless people,” he said. “This is how it started.”

Thapar said he went to every single store in his area to try and track down PPE for his own family. He gave each store his contact information and advised them to call him once masks and sanitizer were back in stock, as he would like to buy them to donate to the homeless.

“So, eventually people started to believe it and they kept calling me with PPE kits,” he said. “That’s how a small journey became a team [effort.]”

Thapar and his family moved to Alberta in October 2021, and he began reaching out to local charities in Airdrie and the surrounding area to determine if there was a need for similar efforts.

“We purchased some dry food and took it ourselves and we started distributing to homeless people,” he said. “My motto is we’re going to reach out to the people who really need it.”

He added he hopes to personally touch others with his charitable efforts and relishes in the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the recipient of his donations.

“I always try to listen to them and what happened in their life, why it is so broken,” he said. “Sometimes they share their stories and what motivates them. Sometimes they just need that someone should listen to them and what happened in their life.

“Sometimes the people need sympathy too.”

Thapar, who is a member of the Sikh religion, said fellow Sikh members and gurus have inspired him to lead a life that is helpful to others. He added he was inspired by UK-based charitable organization Khalsa Aid, which was co-founded by Ravi Singh Khalsa.

“It’s very much a big organization in the UK and it helps homeless or needy people all over the world – I always feel like they are doing a really good job,” he said of the organization that inspires him.

Since the start of his charitable efforts in Canada, Thapar has registered a non-profit organization in Ontario, which he says will soon be registered in Alberta too, called Help Aid Canada. He added he has a team of volunteers, without whom the organization would not be able to continue.

Thapar said he hopes the organization will receive notice from bodies of government so they might receive a financial boost to increase their efforts and continue to motivate and inspire others.

“We never [solicit] money, if someone wants to donate, they are most welcome, but if someone wants to donate themselves and purchase food, we can go with them because our motto is to help homeless,” he said. “We always have to pray they should come out of this [struggle], because you never know.”

He said he hopes his story will encourage others both within and outside the Sikh community to support others in their area.

“If [I] can do it, somebody else can do it too,” he said.

For additional information, visit Help Aid Canada’s Facebook page or website at helpaidcanada.org


Carmen Cundy

About the Author: Carmen Cundy

Carmen Cundy joined the Airdrie Today team in March 2021.
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