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Cross Lake, Manitoba

On Wednesday, March 9, 2016, Cross Lake, a remote Manitoba First Nation community, declared a state of emergency after experiencing six suicides in the previous two months. In response, Ladies Who Lunch, a group of Ottawa business women, contacted the community to see what they could do to help. The community responded with requests for help in five areas: sports equipment, art supplies, musical instruments, messages of hope and love, and grief and crisis counseling.

Catherine Landry, the founder of Ladies Who Lunch, organized an event on April 4 at the National Arts Centre (NAC) with representatives from Cross Lake in attendance to talk about the current situation in their community. Ladies Who Lunch put a request out for donations of musical instruments, arts supplies, and sports equipment to be presented to the community representatives at the April 4th event. This event, and future Ladies Who Lunch initiatives aimed at helping youth in First Peoples communities, was named #MOTHERLOVE.

I put a call out to our World-Changing Kids community asking our amazing kids to make 500 Kindness Cards, with message of hope and love, to send to the youth in Cross Lake, Manitoba. I explained that there were some kids in Cross Lake who needed to know that they are loved because there had recently been a lot of deaths in this small community and some of the residents were really sad. You can read the original post here.

My request for 500 Kindness Cards was shared all over social media, and we had four businesses / organizations volunteer to be drop off locations for the Kindness Cards. We had cards made by school children, Girl Guides, seniors in a retirement home, families in the Baha’i children’s classes, and adults who felt inspired to send their love. In the end, we had nearly 1,000 Kindness Cards made and delivered to the NAC for the April 4th Ladies Who Lunch event.

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The moving company Tippet-Richardson offered to ship the donations of sports equipment, art supplies, musical instruments and Kindness Cards to Manitoba free of charge. From Winnipeg, another company, Winnipeg Moving, offered to take the items to Cross Lake.

The items were received in Cross Lake on May 6. The youth were thrilled to receive all the sports equipment, arts supplies, musical instruments and Kindness Cards. For some amazing photos of the kids receiving these items, check out this post.

Ladies Who Lunch, and those involved in the #MOTHERLOVE initiative are committed to continue working with Cross Lake. We are currently working on a Pen Pal program for elementary classes and a Sister School program for the high school level. Announcements on this will be coming soon!

Attawapiskat, Ontario

Shortly after the April 4th event, Attawapiskat, a remote community in Ontario, also declared a state of emergency after 11 people attempted suicide in a single day.

In response, Anne Laalo of Annie and Company (the Laalo family philanthropic projects page) contacted the community to see how they could help. They received a list of needed items from the community and immediately put out a call for donations. Annie and Company then secured the transportation of donated items from Ottawa to Timmins by ground and then by air to Attawapiskat. They also received free storage units from Dymon Storage at 1830 Walkley Road and organized four Donation Drop Off Saturdays for receiving donations at the storage lockers. There are two more drop off days available – Saturday, May 14 from 10 – 12 and Saturday, May 21 from 10 – 12.

One of the teachers from Attawapiskat was down in Ottawa for two weeks in April. Anne met with her and collected a few boxes of donated items and Kindness Cards to be sent back up to Attawapiskat with this teacher. This teacher shared a beautiful story with Anne about the Kindness Cards that were sent in this first shipment …

One woman, Kaitlyn Lalonde, made the most beautiful crochet hearts to go in the Kindness Cards that she sent up to Attawapiskat. One of the boys who received a card with a crochet heart is 13 years old and has tried to commit suicide 3 times. When he received the crochet heart, he pinned it to the front of his coat so that he could wear it with him always. He told his teacher that it gives him hope to know that someone he has never even met before cares about him enough to make him this heart.

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And Anne just posted this heartwarming feedback from a contact in Attawapiskat on the Annie and Company Facebook page the other day:

“We have been busy here sorting things and giving out all the items that are for personal use. All the diapers and pads have been given out. A bunch of the puzzles have been given out. The board games and some puzzles are in the temporary youth storage for the youth nights. The USBs have been given, one to each student in the high school and one to each student in grades 5-7. And all the letters, cards and notes have been passed around. Many of them have gone home with the youth but we have kept some to put in the front of our school so they students have something positive and some messages of hope and of love when they first walk into school. It has been really great, all thanks to you and the wonderful people you have inspired.”

Our Next World-Changing Kids Kindness Project for Attawapiskat

On Sunday, May 15, World-Changing Kids will be hosting a Kindness Workshop at Tag Along Toys in the Blue Heron Mall at 1500 Bank St. We will be making “Blowing Kisses to Attawapiskat” pictures to send up to the school in Attawapiskat.

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For more information on this event, please click here.

We will be dropping these pictures off with Annie and Company at the May 21st Donation Drop Off Day. If you had any items that you would like to donate, or if you would like to make some Kindness Cards to be sent to Attawapiskat, but you can’t make the drop off time, I would be happy to collect the items from you and get them to Annie and Company.