The Christmas spirit has come in backpacks of all sizes.
Just a week ago, the Upper Room Mission only had 27 backpacks to give clients as Christmas gifts, far short of the 150 to 220 required. But now a collection of more than 300 bags has virtually filled two rooms.
“We were in tears I don’t know how many times,” said Lisa Froom, general manager, of the steady flow of donations.
“The desire of the community to help is overwhelming. No one will be left out this Christmas.”
For one of the mission’s clients, the backpacks are a clear indication that the community cares.
“I haven’t felt like Christmas for years and now I do,” said Peter B.
The backpacks will be presented to clients Friday.
“For some, they haven’t had a gift in years,” said Bobbe MacKenzie, a volunteer.
Those backpacks not designated as Christmas presents will be provided to clients during the new year.
Backpacks started to show up at the mission after a front page article appeared in The Morning Star Dec. 14.
“That morning people started calling and we were on both phone lines most of the day,” said Froom.
Residents were asked to purchase a backpack and then fill it with various items like hand towels, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, socks, razors, soap and candy.
“People want to know how they can help,” said Froom.
“They want something tangible they can do.”
The backpacks are just the latest sign of support the mission has received from Vernon area residents.
Donations of money and empty bottles and cans ensured the exterior of the building was painted this summer, while fundraising still continues for upgrades to the kitchen, which serves 5,000 meals a month.
“The community is making a difference for the mission,” said Froom.