Reel Green interviewed Natasha Dickson of Vancouver Film Studio about their Blessing Bag initiative. Read on to find out more about this project!
Q. What are blessing bags? What are in the bags?
Care packs that we [Vancouver Film Studio] put together to distribute to the homeless in the Downtown Eastside Vancouver area (DTES). The packs consist of non-perishable items that might be useful to a person living on the street such as socks, toothpaste, and toothbrushes (donated by Southpoint Dental), comb, lip balm, nuts, granola bar, energy bar, tissue, EmergenC, gum, hand and toe warmers, goldfish. All the items are loaded into a large-sized Ziploc bags.
Q. What inspired you to start this initiative? Where did the idea come from?
There was motivation from staff as we have seen a close colleague be impacted by mental health and homelessness. This individual is currently living in the DTES.
Q. How many bags have you distributed to date?
This was our first year. We distributed 50 bags. We plan on trying to make and distribute 100 to 200 bags next year.
Q. Where have you distributed or focused your efforts? Why did you choose these areas?
We distributed the bags outside the Insite Supervised Injection Site and in/and around Pidgeon Park. We picked these areas as there are many people living in these areas that are homeless.
Q. What is your vision for this initiative? What do you hope to achieve?
My [Natasha's] vision is to continue this tradition for years to come. I hope to raise awareness about homelessness in the DTES amongst our employees. I took my 8-year-old daughter out of school that day to join us. I’m hoping to teach her that not everyone is as fortunate as our family and that there are people within our local community that need help. I asked her how she felt that day. She said she felt scared and sad but also happy to be helping. Engagement and awareness!
Q. How many people are involved in this initiative?
Since this was our first year, I [Natahsa] sourced out all the goodies to put into the bags as well as put the bags together myself. One of my colleagues was able to get his dentist to donate the toothpaste and toothbrushes. There were nine employees from Pacific Backlot, Signal Systems and Vancouver Film Studios who volunteered on Friday, Dec 8 to leave work early and donate the bags. Our organization is trying to promote VOT (Volunteer Time Off) as part of our Employee Engagement Program.