Students won’t need their backpacks now that school is out for the summer, but a different group of people could use some.
Callie Costello, an 11-year-old St. James resident, is the mastermind behind "Callie’s Backpacks for Winnipeg’s Homeless", a project which provides homeless people with backpacks filled with the basic items needed for daily life. Callie’s backpacks typically include toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo bottles, water bottles, granola bars, deodorant, body wash, lotion, and sanitary napkins.
After months of preparation, Costello distributed 185 backpacks to the homeless on Wed., June 18 at the Main Street Project (75 Martha St.). According to Costello’s mom, Crystal, some people cried when they received their backpacks.
"We really felt like Santa Claus," Crystal said.
Costello said she got the idea of donating backpacks to homeless people from a movie.
"Me and my mom were watching a movie about a boy who was making backpacks for the homeless. He was about my age," Costello explained. "It inspired me because we used to drive by the homeless shelters, and a whole bunch of people were lining up, and it made me really sad."
She then begged her mom to help her create a Facebook page to ask people for donations (https://www.facebook.com/calliesbackpacks/info).
Costello saw that backpacks were universally used by homeless people, to carry their things and to use as pillows. She started purchasing backpacks with her own money at first. Later on, she started receiving donations from people all over the city.
In addition to backpacks, basic necessities for the backpacks are needed, such as socks and pocket-size tissues. A full list can be found on the organization’s Facebook page.
Costello said her goal is to donate 500 backpacks, so her mission isn’t over yet.
For updates, follow Costello’s cause on Twitter (@Calliesbackpack).