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Bags of Hope spilling over with support and community cheer

By Andrea Harrison
Five years ago, Lisa Zachariah was sitting on her couch with her children, talking about a local individual who was feeling alone while facing cancer treatments.

This tragedy touched and inspired the family. They decided to make sure this person knew they were not alone. They collected all kinds of items their own experiences with cancer had taught them would help. They created a bag of gifts to show they cared. It included things to provide comfort during a difficult time – including a throw blanket, journal and pen, snacks, lip balm and more.

The delivery of that first bag succeeded in lifting spirits. Requests for more of these special care kits started pouring in and the news of the idea to show support in this way grew.

Inspired by the positive impact of the initiative, friends and other community members jumped in to help. Donations started slowly, then became a landslide. The non-profit ‘Bags of Hope’ was born.

Fundraisers became an important way to give others an opportunity to contribute. This included barbecues, silent auctions and pizza fundraisers. Last year, the organization hosted a huge event at the Picton Arena to support a 17-year-old battling brain cancer.

Lisa says that more than $50,000 has been raised to support Bags of Hope, with the help of the community.

“Never could we have accomplished any of this without friends, community members and local businesses,” she observes.

Five years after the Zachariahs first decided to take action, they have since expanded their project to help more people. Bags of Hope now include cancer support bags, a backpack program (which filled 54 backpacks with school supplies to give to families in need); and a Christmas hamper campaign.

Knowing the tremendous difference a little support can make, the Bags of Hope team was determined to help essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They chose to first focus on firefighters and paramedics with ‘Bags for Heroes’.

A major sponsor was the Picton Metro, said Lisa, noting manager, Murray Lupenette, and his wife Julie, have been generous supporters for a long time. Many others have also offered support. Amongst other things, the bag for each hero was packed full of chips, pop, water, honey sticks, maple syrup, assorted alcohol and many wine/beer tastings.

“With the help of our generous community, we were able to fill 168 bags for the paramedics and the local firefighters,” she said, with thanks to the many individuals and community sponsors.

She is also adamant that the support of her friends and neighbours in Prince Edward County goes a long way to making this family project work so well.

“We live in a great community. Each time we hold a fundraiser or event, we always have an outpouring of support and volunteers reach out to help us make everything we do a great success,” she said.

Next up? Taking care of the local law enforcement. Bags of Hope heroes version is on the way to the Prince Edwared County OPP detachment “to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated.”

For more information, or to find out how you can support the next project, visit Bags of Hope on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bagsofhopepec/.

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  1. JennyD says:

    Refreshing and encouraging to see locals helping locals in a small community where the need is great- thank you to Lisa and her team!!!

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