When Kailynn Brownlee set out to deliver care packages to the Yellowknife Day Shelter, she thought she would put together maybe 40 packages.
Two hundred and ten care packages later, Brownlee feels “heartened,” and “overwhelmed” by the community’s response.
The project was born out of a Fostering Open eXpression among Youth (FOXY) retreat in August where participants learned of an optional community project they could take on for extra school credit.
Brownlee, a grade 9 student at Sir John Franklin High School, jumped at the chance.
Before putting the call on Facebook, Brownlee said she never could have expected the magnitude of support with which the call was met. In days, she received hundreds of donations of household items, plastic bags for packaging, and monetary contributions to support the cause.
“My phone started blowing up,” Brownlee said, adding that she received donations from all over the territory and one e-transfer from someone as far as Winnipeg.
As of Sunday, the post has 68 shares on Facebook and nearly 100 comments expressing gratitude for Brownlee’s undertaking, and a desire to help.
“I was really blown away from the response. I definitely did not expect this,” she said.
For 10 days Brownlee assembled packages of granola bars, juice boxes, socks, deodorant, floss, feminine hygiene products, soap, and other contributed items. By the time they were ready to donate, Brownlee said the boxes of care packages had taken over her house.
When Brownlee showed up at the Day Shelter last week with a car full of care packages, she describes the recipients as being surprised, thankful, and emotional.
“They were all helping and shaking out hands, and saying thank you so much,” she said. “I felt really appreciated and loved.”
On how she came up with the idea of donating to the Day Shelter, “life can get hard for them,” Brownlee said. “I just think that they also deserve the same respect as everyone else.”
Not even one week since wrapping up the care package donations and Brownlee is already planning her next community project. With a friend who also attended the FOXY retreat, Brownlee said they plan to donate food to Mildred Hall school’s breakfast club – a program that helps to ensure students have regular access to nutritious foods.
On why it’s important for her to be involved in community projects, Brownlee said “I just really like helping out my community.”
“We live so far up North and it’s harder to purchase stuff up here,” she said. “I just want to make part of their day a little better.”