Just a small portion of the blessing bag items rapidly filling up Nicole Archibald’s basement as part of her campaign to help the homeless this year.                                Photo submitted

Just a small portion of the blessing bag items rapidly filling up Nicole Archibald’s basement as part of her campaign to help the homeless this year. Photo submitted

Blessing bag operation quickly expanding

Helping those in need during Christmas season

A Zumba instructor from Ashcroft has launched an initiative for the homeless this year and said it’s taking off better than she expected.

Nicole Archibald said her daughter brought up the idea of putting together blessing bags for the less fortunate this winter and the facebook page she made for the campaign has exploded with people wanting to help.

“I teach (Zumba) classes in Kamloops, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, etc., so I have a really big network of women,” said Archibald.

“It started by me doing a contest, saying if you give me a donation, you get your name in a draw for free classes and it just expanded, now I have tons of people helping me all over, trying to get the word out.”

Blessing bags are packages that contain necessities like toiletries, hand warmers and non-perishable food items and Archibald added she hopes to get up to 300 bags handed out in December.

Those in Clearwater interested in donating can get hold of Archibald’s local contact Karley Arndt at 250-674-8086 or drop off donations at 557 Windhaven Dr.

A few years back Archibald did a similar initiative, called a Diva Drive, though it was directed at homeless women, so this year she decided to expand the operation.

“There are tons of homeless men as well; I contacted a couple people hoping for corporate donations, so I’m kind of in the process of that, hoping they’ll give a monetary donation so we can buy things we don’t necessarily receive for donations,” she said.

It’s also not the first charitable act Archibald’s daughter has undertaken either, having received a Premier’s Award for volunteerism during the wildfires after she raised $6,000 for for her local fire department with a lemonade stand.

The inspiration behind the blessing bags is a simple one.

“People helping people—it started as, like I say, having such a huge platform of women, I always do some sort of fundraiser; we’ve done food banks drives in the past, then my daughter said, ‘Mom, look at those people, they look so cold,’” Archibald added.

“I said they are cold honey. So she asked what we could do for these people, because not everyone has a house to take food to. I was like, okay, let’s do these blessing bags, that’s where it started.

“I’m just passionate about helping other people. Why not give back if you can? It’s inspiring and it makes my heart happy.”

Now the operation has expanded across several different cities and towns, with people as far off as Vancouver donating to the cause and Archibald having to move furniture around her basement to make room for donations.

Though the blessing bags are mainly going to be handed out in Kamloops, Archibald said they’re available to homeless people in the donation areas who need them.

“If there are any homeless people locally, then I would definitely love to help them out.”

Anyone looking for a complete list of accepted items can join the Facebook group: blessing bag drive #peoplehelpingpeople