A Fairfield boy, who is collecting sleeping bags for Victoria’s homeless, is hoping to enlist the help of fellow kindergardeners to distribute them on Christmas Eve.
In the last two weeks, five-year-old Tate Parker has collected more than 100 sleeping bags from people across Greater Victoria, surpassing his original goal of 51.
“We’ve completely shattered our dreams about thinking we can do more than a dozen sleeping bags. It’s turned into something much larger,” said Tate’s father Neil, adding Tate has already given away one sleeping bag to a man in tent city during the cold snap last month.
“Tate said to me ‘Dad, it’s cold. When is Christmas Eve?’ People have been inspired.”
The idea for the campaign started last month. Once a week, Tate and his family walk to Beacon Hill Park, where they feed the ducks, explore the park and often encounter people sleeping in tents.
That’s when the St. Michaels University School student decided to take action.
He would collect 51 sleeping bags (the amount of money he had in his piggy bank) and distribute them to people camping in Beacon Hill Park, the tent city outside Victoria’s courthouse on Burdett Avenue and other locations on Christmas Eve.
Since then, the family has received new and gently used sleeping bags, money and messages of support from people across the country and the U.S.
People in Philadelphia and Edmonton have offered to start a Sleeping Bag Tate campaign next year as well. Some kids have even mailed sleeping bags using their allowance money.
Langford’s Canadian Tire store donated 20 brand new sleeping bags to the cause.
“I thought it was a really great idea, a young kid taking that kind of initiative,” said Darren Jones, general manager of the Langford store. “It just shows that someone so small can do such a little thing that encourages other people to step up.”
The Canadian Tire in View Royal also donated 31 sleeping bags.
With an abundance of sleeping bags, Tate is now looking for fellow kindergardeners to help distribute the packages, which will include a sleeping bag, a pair of socks and food cards.
“It’s grown so much and it makes sense to enlist the help of kindergardeners,” said Neil, noting they’ve already had a couple of kids reach out to them. “It’s not really about Tate, it’s about the community.”
To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.