School project puts warmth into bus wait
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When challenged by a professor to find ways to improve life in Winnipeg, Taylor Boucher knew what she wanted to do: help people stay warm in winter.
The 27-year-old North Kildonan resident takes transit to classes at the University of Winnipeg, waiting for the bus at McIvor Loop in the northeast corner of the city.
“Waiting for a bus in winter is cold,” she said, noting it made her think of other commuters and homeless people who might not have tuques, mitts and scarves to stay warm.
So when Sandy Pool, who teaches a class titled “Topics in Local, National, & Global Cultures: Social Justice and Writing the City,” told Boucher and other students in the class to think of the “good and helpful things they could do” in Winnipeg, she decided to make the McIvor Loop Box.
The box, purchased by Boucher for her project, is a small trunk with a lid and a colourful floral pattern. It sits near the McIvor Avenue bus stop and contains scarves, mittens, hand warmers and disposable masks.
On the top, Boucher placed a notice that says: “Hello McIvor Loop! In an effort to show care and keep our community warm as the season gets colder, your neighbours have created the McIvor Loop Box.”
She added an invitation: “If you have items you would like to donate to the box, we kindly ask they are clean and in good condition.”
Boucher placed the container in early December. Two days later, all the mittens and hand warmers were gone, as were two scarves and several masks. After she refilled the box, another scarf was taken, along with hand warmers. Before Christmas, she found someone had donated four pairs of mittens and three tuques.
“By leaving the box in a communal place that’s frequented by many people throughout the day, my hope was commuters would bring donations and put them in the box,” Boucher said of how pleased she was to see others contributing.
For Pool, it is just one of many “really incredible” projects done by students in the class.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, students were feeling “they were doing ‘nothing’ and were feeling depressed and lethargic,” she said.
“I wanted to get them out of the classroom and into the Winnipeg community in a safe, supportive way. I wanted to show them that there are good and helpful things they can do in our city.”
It was also a way for them to “create new visions for the kind of place they’d like Winnipeg to be in the future,” Pool said, adding: “I want to empower students to learn that places are created by people, and if they invest deeply in Winnipeg as a ‘place,’ they can help shape the new and evolving reality of our city.
The final projects have been “really incredible.”
One student bought disposal units for disposing used needles and dropped them off at locations around Winnipeg, including a zine about safe drug supply.
Another did a digital project to make multilingual road signs to better serve a growing immigrant population in Winnipeg. One made an Instagram account mapping political murals in Winnipeg.
As for Boucher, she considers her project to be successful based on the number of items taken and donated.
“It’s an act of care and love,” she said. “It shows we are coming together as a community to care for each other.”
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John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
Updated on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 9:35 AM CST: Corrects typo in photo cutline
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