Using my Passion to Purpose Grant, I created Summer Camp in a Box for Kids Cancer Care, an Alberta organization which supports families affected by pediatric cancer diagnoses. Initially, I had hoped to donate through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, however they were not taking donations at the time I started my project due to COVID-19. I chose to work with Kids Cancer Care because I was personally familiar with some of their activities and community involvement. After emailing Kids Cancer Care, I was made aware that their summer programming for families at Camp Kindle was cancelled due to COVID-19 so they were in need of summer activities for their families. This was a wonderful opportunity to create Summer Camp in a Box so families could have something to enjoy together whether they are outside or hospitalized. The camp director was wonderful in explaining a few items they really wanted inside the packages and I chose the remaining items based on what I would have wanted as a child on the hematology and oncology unit to enjoy with my family.
I started talking to my friends and family about this project and was very grateful that they supported it right from the beginning. The youth who helped with assembling these care packages were close family friends who are in our bubble of families due to COVID-19. Since we had contact with them throughout the pandemic and were seeing few people outside of our families, it was safe for us to come together to build the care packages. The volunteers ranged in age from 14-20. They were recruited because I had discussed the project with them and they expressed interest in helping with it.
Overall, I found the project to be really successful. I was worried that the youth might not rally around my project, but found that if you portrayed your excitement for it, the youth would pick up on it and support it. The youth made the project really enjoyable because they recognized its importance while also interacting with each other to build the packages. It was a good reminder that though society has primarily used technology for interaction in recent months, nothing can fully substitute working alongside someone in person to build each other and the community up.
I learned that it can be a great conversation starter with people I didn’t know. When making my purchases, often the cashier would ask about what I was doing with such a large quantity of items. Through explaining I received a grant to create Summer Camp in a Box packages for Kids Cancer Care, they seemed very interested and inspired to do something similar. While I may not know if they ever complete a project of their own, I am encouraged that other people are supportive of these community projects and would be willing to assist people in their community in doing something similar.
Surprisingly, I also learned that it can be difficult to spend your entire budget. Initially, I budgeted everything at full price and found I could only afford to create 21 of these packages. However, I found most of the items I had budgeted for full price on sale, so I ended up saving a lot of money. In the end, I ended up creating 24 packages with more items in it than initially planned for. It was a new experience doing so much math in the store to ensure I was using my grant to its fullest potential and adjusting my budget accordingly so it tracked all of my purchases.
I hope to do a similar project in the future and use what I have learned to make any kind of care packages very meaningfully for the families. I think I would still create a budget based on fully prices, but also create a list of potential additional items in case I find my core package items on sale so I can continue to be intentional about the items in the care package. I really like giving back to families with children in the hospital because I have been in their shoes and recognize some of the needs they have. It helps me to reflect on my experiences as a child and also feel like I am contributing to a community which has positively impacted me.
Amy Skinner, P2P Acadia 2019 Alumni