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Students in Grades 7, 11 and 12 from St. Francis Xavier High School made and distributed 200 “life bags” at the Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre to spread kindness and mercy to people experiencing homelessness in our community. The “life bags” contained food, clothing, hygiene products and treats.

The idea for these bags came from two Grade 11 students, Ahmed and Abby, after helping a homeless person near the Rideau Centre. “Ahmed had the idea that we should be supporting more people that are homeless with food… I thought that we should also be collecting warm clothing and other essentials and our idea grew into something bigger,” said Abby.

“We were just going to do something small and have bags with a sandwich and a juice box because we didn’t have any funding for the project,” said Ahmed. But that’s when their Grade 11 World Religions Teacher, Maria Oliviero, entered the picture! The two students shared their idea, and she stepped in to get help from the OCSB community to help fund the project.

“We partnered with another elementary school to provide socks and blankets, and teachers donated gently used mitts, hats and scarves,” said Maria. “We thought it would be a great experience for the students, not only to donate to the shelter, but experience being here and interacting with those they are serving.” 

“We are so grateful to the students at St. Francis Xavier for their generosity and for putting smiles on people’s faces today,” said Ottawa Booth Centre Executive Director Marc Provost, “Donations such as these mean a lot to us and to those we serve.”

Maria hopes this will become an annual event for her students.“The students learned a lot and it was really eye-opening for a lot of people.”