Ten-year-old Charlie Casado is working to give kids going through times of trauma a bit of comfort.
She says she wants to show them someone in the community cares. That is why she has started I Care Packs – By Charlie.
Charlie, with the help of her mother Bobbe, have filled backpacks with items to bring comfort to a child who is going through a difficult time.
Items Charlie picks for the backpacks depend on age, but always includes pyjamas, a notebook and a comfort item.
“It isn’t much, but I just want to show the kids that there is someone in the community who cares,” said Charlie.
A journal or diary has been placed into each care pack at the request of Victim Services, who uses the backpack in times of need.
“Victim Services encourages the kids who come in to write in a journal so, we made sure to include that,” explained Bobbe.
Charlie says she wanted to use backpacks for the care packages because they are something each child can call their own and take with them where ever they are going.
She said the kids sometimes come in to Victim Services with nothing and felt it was important to give them something of their own.
“I really wanted to have a comfort item in them, like a teddy bear or something. Who doesn’t like cuddling with their teddy?” Charlie said.
The idea came to Charlie about a year ago when watching a video about a similar project done in the United States.
Since coming up with the idea Charlie and Bobbe approached Victim Services with the idea, to ensure it was something they would be able to use.
The answer was a resounding ‘yes.’
“[Victim Services] were so excited and eager for the project,” Bobbe said.
On Feb. 6, Charlie delivered the first four I Care Packs – By Charlie to Victim Services.
More will be delivered once Charlie has raised enough to pay them off, she says.
“We have more ready, but I haven’t paid my mom back for them yet. When I have we will deliver them as well,” Charlie said.
She has been raising money for the packs, each one costing between $50-60, through the sale of used books and homemade fire starters.
She also set up a donation table at Scotiabank, where clients could purchase a book or drop off a donation. Transactions were handled by the staff at the bank.
“Charlie has been invited back to Scotiabank in March to set up her table again,” said Bobbe.
Charlie plans to use this as her project for community involvement once she reaches Ranger with Girl Guides. Bobbe says it is a long term project for her daughter.
“When she is ready I will step back and she will take control completely. I’ll be here to help but, it’s her project,” Bobbe said.
Charlie said she wanted to begin work on the project early, to add credibility to her name.
“Victim Services gave me a certificate and a letter saying that they know what I’m doing,” said Charlie.
Bobbe added the letter and certificate make it easier for the young girl to ask for donations or support from the community.
“Next I’ll be teaching her how to make solicitation letters, asking for sponsors,” Bobbe said.
Charlie said she would happily list those who have donated or sponsored the bags, either on a card inside or on the card she writes out introducing herself.
Currently the introduction card states the backpacks were made with the help of many people.
“The library [Parkland Regional Library] donated a bunch of books … and some nice lady donated a bag full of really nice toques,” said Charlie, adding the person who donated the hand-made toques did not leave a name.
Charlie hopes to raise enough to provide the Sylvan Lake Victim Services with a backpack for one boy and one girl of each age group.
When a bag is used, Victim Services will contact Charlie so she can replace it.
“[Victim Services] said they don’t get a lot of kids who are in need of something like this, but they do come in from time to time,” said Bobbe.
Red Deer Victim Services has also approached Charlie to bring her I Care Packs to the city.
The plan is to make sure Sylvan Lake is outfitted first before moving on to Red Deer, said Bobbe.
Charlie says it is important that the kids are looked after too, because just like the adults they are also going through a traumatic experience.
“It could even be affecting the kids more, and they may be ignored because the adults are trying to work through whatever is happening. I just want them to know someone does care,” said Charlie.
Anyone interested in making a donation to I Care Packs – By Charlie are asked to call 403-887-1944.
Donations can be books to sell, items for the packs or money to pay for the packs.
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