Who knew a simple conversation on a train one afternoon could turn into a fundraiser aimed at helping our most vulnerable neighbours?
Well, this was the case for University of Alberta students, Mujtaba and Daniel. The two began this initiative called Boxed Blessings three years ago in October of 2019 and have continued to fill boxes and fundraise each year. They began partnering with The Mustard Seed to distribute boxes filled with essentials to those experiencing homelessness throughout Edmonton. I had the opportunity to sit down with the two creators of Boxed Blessings to learn a little more about this fundraiser they have spear headed and why they continue to fill boxes year after year.
Q: Why did you guys decide to start Boxed Blessings?
A: Mujtaba: “I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a homeless individual on the train. He sat beside me and I kindly asked if he could tell him about his day. While we talked, they opened up about what it is like being homeless and the challenges that are against him every day. This conversation was very touching and really opened my eyes about the homeless crisis in the very city I live in. After a couple of days of thinking and reflecting on the conversation I decided I needed to do something. I talked to my close friend, Daniel, who wanted to be a part of it and came up with the idea to have an annual care package day for those experiencing homelessness in Edmonton. And this was how Boxed Blessings was born - an organization that makes care packages containing useful items such as mittens, food, small heat pads, and hats in hopes to distribute them to as many people as possible.”
Q: Why did you choose to partner with The Mustard Seed?
A: “When we were working with each other to create Boxed Blessings’ vision, we naturally came across the idea of giving back to Edmonton’s less fortunate. We envisioned giving care packages full of basic necessities to instill hope in those who needed it the most. As we looked for partners, we realized that our vision aligned perfectly with The Mustard Seed’s - to build hope and well being for vulnerable citizens. The Mustard Seed was able to provide the guidance that we needed to kickstart this campaign and really help us to get where we are right now.”
Q: What are your goals with this fundraiser this year?
A: “Every year, our goal is to create and distribute more care packages than we did the year before as well as expanding our team of volunteers. With this vision of always improving every year, we try to think of innovative ways of fundraising to meet the need for supplies. This year we plan on making even more packages with even more warm winter accessories. We plan on doing this by getting more sponsors on board and expanding our fundraising. We hope that once the packages are complete, we can then connect with individuals in shelters to be able to build more personal connections with our target population. To date, we have been able to give out over 250 care packages in the past two years."
Q: Why do you continue to do Boxed Blessings each year?
A: "Boxed blessings has given us, and many others, the opportunity to make an impact and a positive difference in the local Edmonton community. Being able to connect with those experiencing homelessness in our community and having the chance to listen to such diverse stories has really motivated both of us to continue our work in this area."