Student led charity bag drive returns this weekend

left to right : Megan Stellato, Brooke Baker (Co-Founder), Celina Lovisotto (Co-Founder), Bridgett Chau, Makena Sceeles

A Queen’s student led initiative is holding its third bag drive this Saturday, with donations going to the Kingston Interval House.

Bags of Promise (BOP) has been at work in the Kingston area since spring 2021, with the focus being on filling backpacks with essential items like hygiene products and grocery gift cards for partners in the community to distribute to their clients.

On Saturday teams will be filling and delivering bags, with a final push this week to collect items.

As the organization continues to find its footing in the community, they have rebranded with a new website and also looked to expand to have a wider reach, adding a number of student volunteers to its team.

BOP’s executive director Makene Sceeles says the need for expansion of their team has sprung from the increase in programs the organization is involved in.

“I’d say that our interest in terms of the services, the education, and the level of advocacy that we provide has really expanded so we’ve needed quite a large team,” Sceeles said.

Part of their growth now includes looking at building chapters in other cities where interested students can look to provide a similar service in their own community.

Guelph became the first new town to open their own local chapter, and BOP is looking to get established in more places if it can.

While the idea for the Guelph partnership came from Kingston, the organization is now looking for interested suitors in other towns to come to them for guidance on getting started.

“Now we’re opening it up to other students reaching out to us in hopes of starting a chapter in their area if that’s a need that they recognize,” Sceeles said.

“That’s something that we’re hoping to start is being a little bit more hands off and allowing those needs to come to us.”

For the first time the organization also has to start thinking about handing off some of leadership positions to a new group of students, as members of the executive team near the end of their time at Queen’s and potentially in Kingston.

Sceeles says that it’s clear newer members will be able to take the wheel when the time comes.

“We were able to recruit a lot of first and second years that were demonstrating a lot of leadership and had a lot of passion for community service,” Sceeles said.

“And also noticed a gap in our community in Kingston and in other communities… I think that’s made our job really easy in terms of kind of passing on the baton to some of those younger members.”

BOP is accepting donations up until Friday, February 3 with the bag delivery happening Saturday.