Lending a Helping Hand

 Stephen's Backpacks Executive Director Nancy McPhee, viiz Assistant Call Center Manager Bryan Kwan, and viiz Call Center Manager Michael Yewchuk.

Stephen's Backpacks Executive Director Nancy McPhee, viiz Assistant Call Center Manager Bryan Kwan, and viiz Call Center Manager Michael Yewchuk.

I’m proud to work for a company that supports non-profits in our headquarters city of Calgary, AB, as well as across Canada and the US throughout the year, and I’m honored to work with people who, around the holidays, find ways to give even more.   When the Calgary office and call center staff were looking for an effective way to reach out to those who need some extra help at Christmas, Assistant Call Center Manager Bryan Kwan recommended Stephen’s Backpack Society in Calgary. It’s a registered Canadian charity, started by Stephen McPhee, a young man who wanted to do something to help other children.  Registered in 2008, the organization’s tagline is, “Delivering hope.  Changing hearts,” and they provide backpacks filled with supplies and gifts for children in need across the province of Alberta during the holidays.  

Bryan had been involved with this group through a previous employer, and he said, “When Stephen and his family came to pick up the backpacks we put together and we saw Stephen's face, his happiness at what he saw, it was an easy charity to go back to.   When you see a young child who wants to help out of the goodness of his heart, it's easy to chip in and do your part. Every year, seeing the faces of their volunteers when they saw what was being contributed was the greatest reward you could have!”

 Some of the viiz Calgary team members who participated in the Stephen's Backpacks project.

Some of the viiz Calgary team members who participated in the Stephen's Backpacks project.

After hearing that, the team decided to lend their support to Stephen’s Backpacks Society this year.  Once word spread in the office, the company stepped in and donated the backpacks.   Yay!  Then viiz office and call center employees donated $1,800 worth of supplies and gifts – everyone got into the spirit.  Every day more donations appeared under the tree, and packing them all up for delivery was quite a job!  Last week, Calgary Call Center Manager Michael Yewchuk and Bryan delivered the overflowing backpacks to the organization’s warehouse.

The two met with Executive Director (and Stephen’s mom!) Nancy McPhee and were impressed with everything the organization was doing and how many children it would be helping this year.   The impact of the donation, though, was made especially clear when Nancy took two of the backpacks filled for infants out of the group and tagged them for delivery for two situations of immediate need; one would go to a homeless woman with a preemie baby, and the other would be delivered to a new mom they knew of through a local church group.  

Great job, Calgary team, well done.