Unity in the Community, a partnership between several local charities working together to raise awareness for a multitude of causes, is teaming up with Airdrie’s Project Linus.
Nancy McPhee is behind the Stephen’s Backpacks Society, a non-profit organization that works on a number of initiatives, including giving backpacks filled with essentials, ranging from toys to clothing, to children in need each holiday season.
McPhee’s son Stephen is the catalyst for the organization. Stephen, who is autistic, also came up with the idea for Unity in the Community.
“For him, it’s just a natural thing that everybody works together,” McPhee said. “He’s never doubted that the community would always be there.
“(Stephen’s Backpacks) have been around for over a decade now, and it’s been the desire of my heart in the whole 10-year period to bring charities closer together.”
Leslie Gould, a board member for Airdrie’s Project Linus, said the Unity in the Community movement is a great way for multiple charities to spread awareness.
“It’s been a great opportunity for us,” she said. “We’ve also been able to collect donations of yarn and fabric that sometimes people are looking to get rid of but don’t know where to have it go.
“It’s allowed us to have a table set up at the Superstore and bring our brochures and a sample of the blankets we give out to children.
I have found if you tell one person, that one person will tell at least a couple of people.”
Project Linus is a worldwide movement that donates homemade blankets to children in need, keeping them emotionally and physically warm when battling illness or problems at home.
Established in 2011, Airdrie’s Project Linus handed out over 100 blankets to victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016.
The need for these blankets is increasing, as the non-profit gave away more than 62 blankets in May. Gould said her group of “blanketeers” will create and donate more than 300 by the end of the year.
McPhee is excited about the future of Unity in the Community and is looking for new organizations to join the movement. The bin at the Airdrie Superstore will be free after Project Linus is finished with it in June.
“Community Links approached me, which is just so wonderful,” McPhee said. “I think when it naturally happens, I think it’s much stronger than trying to force or sell people on the idea.”
The Stephen’s Backpacks Society will be hosting a barbeque at the Airdrie Superstore July 1, including live music, dancers and a special float celebrating Canada’s charitable past.