Thirteen-year-old Ethan Steele, with the help of family and friends, made a donation of 30 gift bags for people in need during this year’s Chalmers Community Services Centre’s Christmas Gift Bag campaign — 10 more than he donated last year.
The teen said he doesn't like seeing people in need.
“I want to help them,” he said.
Although Ethan took the lead on the family's gift bag project, he notes it was a team effort.
“I got a lot of help from friends and family and my classmates at King George,” he said.
Ethan made this year’s donation in person at the centre prior going to school on Dec. 8.
“When I got to (Chalmers) it made me feel good that I was donating lots of stuff they are going to give to homeless people and vulnerable people,” said Ethan.
Last year, Ethan donated 20 bags to the campaign.
His mother, Andrea Steele, said Ethan was motivated to improve on his donation from last year.
“I think Ethan was sure he wanted to make it bigger and better this year,” said Andrea.
Each gift bag consists of basic toiletry items, warm socks, winter gloves, instant coffee, chocolates and other basic needs.
Women receive feminine hygiene products and men receive shaving cream and razors. The items in each gift bag totals about $50 to $60.
The centre provides various services for the vulnerable people of Guelph, including the offering of food, clothing, hygiene products or household items or the mending of clothing and other items — all free of charge and this year an estimated 800 gift bags were distributed.
Andrea said Ethan got started on the project earlier than last year.
"Ethan made a big spreadsheet laying out exactly what he needed. At his school he put out donation boxes, he did a little presentation to school council,” she said.
Some people donated individual items, semi-complete or fully complete bags or money and Ethan contributed his own funds as well.
Family and friends from abroad even chipped in with donations.
“We got a lot of donations of money and were able to get things ourselves,” said Ethan.
By watching out for sales, Ethan was able to make the dollars that were donated to his effort go even further.
“It’s a good opportunity for Ethan to learn too about stretching his dollar and picking things out economically,”said Andrea.
Chalmers isn't the only non-profit organization Ethan supported this year.
In August, Ethan won a bicycle as a prize for being a top fundraiser for the Tour de Guelph in support of Guelph General Hospital and local charities through the Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium.
The bike Ethan received was too small for him and, instead of exchanging it for a bigger one, he donated it to a child in need through Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County.
He received a thank you card from the recipient of the bicycle.
“He sent me a card that said you’re number one. That made me feel really good,” said Ethan.
Andrea said everything came together organizing this year’s donation to the Chalmers Christmas Gift Bag campaign.
“Ethan facilitated a lot of the donations. We had a significant amount of support to do it,” said Andrea.
She added: “we already have a plan for next year.”