When the Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign made its local plea for gently used purses or backpacks filled with personal necessities, among those who answered the call were the Grade 4 class at Cyril Varney Public School.
The bags go to women and youth in need. While Fill a Purse for a Sister is a national campaign, bags put together in Sudbury are donated to local clients of shelters and social services accessed by the city's most vulnerable.
This year's campaign has a goal of 12,000 bags.
Joy Rybiak, Grade 4 teacher at Cyril Varney, read an article about the program to her students, and was met with an enthusiastic response.
The students were “greatly inspired to make a difference,” she said.
“When I had sent home a letter, within a few days, the classroom was filled with backpacks and purses, and I couldn't keep the shelves clean, because there were so many toiletries and personal hygiene products that were coming in.
“I had even a grandparent stop me in the schoolyard to say how inspiring it was and how his granddaughter was just greatly affected by this project.”
The class has collected 20 bags filled not only with practical items from tissues to tampons, but also personal notes from the kids.
She said she got each of the kids to create a card for the recipient that includes an inspiring quote.
“This for me was just much more than filling a purse,” Rybiak said. “This was teaching children that we can make a difference in the world, and a little goes a long way.
“They should feel inspired, they are powerful people, and never shy away from a challenge and always help out. It's not about what we get in the end, but it's how our heart feels.”
Mackenzie Moore, one of the students in Rybiak's class, said it feels nice to know they're helping others.
“By doing this one little thing, it's going to change a lot — one person's life and more,” said the young girl.
She wrote the quote “when life is down, go up,” on a handmade card she packed in one of the bags.
“I know this is going to help them, with the purse — just to make them feel good,” Mackenzie said.
The Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign runs this year until Dec. 1.
Drop-off locations in Sudbury include Ramakko's, Northern Smiles Dental Hygiene Clinic, C & R Roofing, Contractor's Wholesale, Centre Victoria de Femme, RPM Automotive and Leather Works Plus.
Local recipients include Genevra House women’s shelter, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Samaritan Centre, Foyer Notre Dame, Cedar Place women's shelter, Sudbury Women Centre, Homeless Network Sudbury, and Centre Victoria Pour Femmes, among others.