Kelowna teen October Angell-Janfield (Toby) has organized a care package program for youth experiencing in the Okanagan.
Toby’s idea of putting together packages of essentials and “nice-to-have” items has not been easy to execute.
He is a member of the Downtown Youth Center, run by the club formally known as the Boys and Girls Club, now called BGC Okanagan.
Toby has been working on this project since 2020, when the club was running a program teaching youth how to write proposals, apply for grants, and make a difference in the community.
He explained that the project was never actually intended to come to fruition, it was just a learning exercise. However, COVID-19 induced boredom, and a nudge from his mentors, got things rolling.
Unfortunately, the wind was taken out of his sails early on. Toby’s first grant proposal was denied and he said he“felt like giving up.”
Thankfully, Toby has strong role models like BGC employee Scotia Hewitt who encouraged him to keep trying. She has experience getting grants for community projects and helped Toby navigate roadblocks and secure funding.
He ended up finally securing a grant from Rising Youth for $1,500.
To date, Toby has purchased $1,000 of items for the care packages.
“I bought 50 grocery bags full of stuff for the care packages,” said Toby who organized the shopping and transportation of the goods by himself.
Now, he is working with the city of Kelowna to purchase $500 worth of bus tickets. He plans on putting a few bus tickets in each care package as one of the “nice-to-have items.”
Toby took great care in selecting the items to include and surveyed friends, family and community members for their ideas. He also spoke to people who have experienced homelessness and said that socks were the most suggested item.
After taking some time off after this stressful endeavour, Toby has altruistic plans for the future and encourages others to get involved in their community.
“People don’t take advantage of money available for grants,” said Toby. “It’s so worth it if you do get approved.”