Thursday, December 19, 2013

We are the kids you helped...

Susan Krepart with baby formula donations/ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
There is a Winnipeg woman named Susan Krepart who is raising money and baby formula donations for Winnipeg Harvest and the thousands of people they help each month.

The stay-at-home mom heard about Harvest's dire need for formula a little less than two weeks ago. She was touched by the plight of Manitoba's largest food bank, so she sprung into action, starting a social media campaign called the Magnus Hay Formula Drive, which has so far raised more than $20,000 and a mountain of baby formula worth a few thousand dollars.

Though Krepart is the modest hero of this story, she was able to accomplish this amazing goal thanks to the donations of generous Winnipeggers and sponsors, including Qualico, a real estate development company based out of Western Canada, who matched her donations to the tune of $11,000.

One of the most amazing aspects of this story is that Krepart and the other people who have contributed and who contribute to charities like Harvest and the Christmas Cheerboard, don't even know who they're helping.

They do this to help the anonymous masses who have somehow found themselves vulnerable and in need of people they don't even know.

We're the kids you helped 

I'm one of the people that Krepart and others have helped. Maybe not directly, but in the grand scheme of things, my sisters and I were those hungry babies that Krepart and others are working so hard to feed.

I grew up in a loving home, my parents worked hard and did the best they could. At times, however, it wasn't enough. There were times when money was so tight that my mom would feed us air-popped popcorn for dinner because there was nothing else to eat. For my sisters and I that kind of dinner was an absolute treat. For a mother, it must have been gut-wrenching to know that she couldn't feed her children the way she should. Still, she kept a brave face and always made it seem like we were getting popcorn for dinner because we had been good.

We had no idea.

Looking back, my childhood was wonderful, and though we were "poor," we were still far better off than many other people living below the invisible poverty line.

I wore hand-me-downs from my older sister and from the bags of clothes that we'd get from the neighbour's kids. I probably only ever got brand new clothes on my birthday, or at Christmas. It didn't matter though, when someone gave us a bag of clothes, my sisters and I would tear through the black plastic and go shopping at the garbage bag boutique on our living room floor.

This probably explains my love for thrift store shopping today.

Our home was clean and modest, and I think most of our furniture and belongings were gently used or just really, really old. As kids that was just the norm though. While I used to fantasize about having a pink canopy bed like my friend Lindsay, I always went to bed warm and happy in the room I shared with my sister.

We had toys, lots of them in fact. I think that's a give-in when you have three kids, and you just sort of start to amass stuff over the years. Still, my sisters and I often got creative by making our own paper dolls out of the Sears catalogue, and dressing our barbies in our own designs made out of our mom's old panyhose. (Our Barbie's wore a lot of black and nude-coloured tube dresses.)

And like I said, sometimes we'd have popcorn for supper and those were the best days ever.

As an adult with two young nieces, I can't imagine that life -- my childhood -- and how hard it must have been wearing the grown up shoes. I can't imagine not being able to feed my nieces properly, or having to stretch a dollar so far, and still not having it last till the next one comes in. I can't imagine the absolute fear of bare cupboards and an empty bank account in the middle of the week. I can't imagine how hard it must be to ask for help...

Well, this is where the Susan Krepart's of the world come in. They see this need and the struggles that some families face, and they step up and they help. They do it for people they don't know; they do it for people they'll probably never meet; and they do it without ever receiving a thank you from the ones they are helping most. (Not because people aren't thankful, but because places like Harvest are there to act as a go-between.)

I'm not sure who the countless Susan Krepart's in my life are, but to them, to Susan, and to all of the people who give and help others, I say thank you. You helped feed me; you helped put presents under our Christmas tree; and you gave me the greatest gift of all: A worry-free childhood where poverty didn't exist.

Thank you.

UPDATE: The Magnus Hay Formula Drive raised 375.5 kilograms of formula worth approximately $10,000 and $25,266.51 in cash donations in 15 days. 

Read about it here.

Bravo Susan Krepart and Winnipeg.