Volunteers assemble items to be handed out to the homeless in the region last year. The West Shore-based project is spearheaded by Colwood resident Niki Ottosen and her family and partners with the Dandelion Society to reach the homeless community. (Contributed photo).

Christmas Backpack Project seeks donations in Colwood

The backpacks will be distributed to the less fortunate around Christmas

Niki Ottosen knows what it’s like to live out of a backpack.

As a gardener, every morning Ottosen would load up her backpack with water, lunch, rain gear, gloves and clothing. Being out in public parks for the majority of the day, rain or shine, what she had in her backpack was what she had access to during the day. It was also where Ottosen began to notice places where the region’s homeless were stashing their belongings.

“My backpack was my lifeline. It had everything I needed to keep me comfortable through the day,” the Colwood resident said. “I was very aware that people were living outside and I understood how hard it must be because I was outside all day, but I had a warm bed to go home to and they didn’t.”

RELATED: Annual Christmas backpack project a labour of love for volunteers

Understanding the importance of having everything with you and wanting to give back to the community, Ottosen started the Christmas Backpack Project. As part of the project, Ottosen, her husband and daughter gathered a few backpacks and loaded them with necessities, which she donated to homeless people in downtown Victoria on Christmas Eve.

It’s a tradition that Ottosen has continued over the past 10 years and has grown into a community-wide effort with backpack donations pouring in from all over the Capital Region. Last year, 187 backpacks were donated, which volunteers packed and distributed to the less fortunate. Now, heading into the holiday season, efforts are ramping up for this year’s campaign, which kicked off recently.

This year’s list of donations include gloves, socks, umbrellas, blankets and scarves, toiletry items such as toothbrushes, razors, and feminine hygiene products, as well as food such as cookies, peanut butter and crackers, protein bars and instant hot chocolate.

“I’ll be happy with 20 [backpacks] or I’ll be happy with 200, I’ll be happy with whatever we get,” said Ottosen, noting the operation has become so large that volunteers pack the backpacks a week before Christmas and deliver them to shelters, who distribute them. “It does make a difference in the lives of our community members and that’s really what it’s all about, is helping people who live in our community.”

Backpacks can be dropped off until Friday, Dec. 15 at the Colwood municipal hall (3300 Wishart Rd.), Alpine Disposal and Recycling (1045 Dunford Ave), Disaster Aid Canada (426 Williams St.) and Millstream Self Storage (888 Short St.). For more information, search Christmas Backpack Project on Facebook.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Death-penalty decision delayed for alleged cold-case killer

William Talbott is charged here in the 1987 slaying of a young Victoria-area couple

Emergency crews responding to incident in Goldstream Provincial Park

Delays in both directions on the Trans-Canada Highway in Langford

Scam arrives on Saanich senior’s doorstep

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Pandora supervised consumption site has busy first month

Site whose aim is to save lives takes on a new client-driven name: The Harbour

Victoria’s plastic bag ban inspires local entrepreneur to give back

Karebags a local, collaborative alternative for reusable bags, donates profits to charity

Through your lens: Okanagan wildfires

Check out some of the captivating images and video from social media of the wildfires

BC Games: Opening Ceremony from Laketown Ranch

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

FRESH IDEA: Victoria tech firm beneficiary of streamlined government system

Software developer FreshWorks awarded $1.5-million contract using new bid program

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Most Read