Horizon Leadership Students Mobilize And Prepare 100+ Packages for the Homeless
by Dan Mullins
Kleenex, socks, hand warmers, snacks, lip balm, gum, disposable masks, gift cards to A&W, Tim Hortons, and McDonalds… plus an uplifting message. These are just some of the things included in the 120 care packages that students from Horizon High School assembled and which have been distributed the past few months.
The students are supplying the packages for West-Island charities, including the Old Brewery Mission, Halte Transition and Blankets for the Homeless.
Horizon, the welcoming alternative school in Pointe Claire, has been running this project for the past three years. English teacher Louise Pion oversees the work of her Leadership class, a group of six Secondary 4- and 5-aged students who are following the Senior Program. Elissa Arif from Carrefour Jeunesse also plays a significant role in making sure things run smoothly, and students from Horizon’s EdVenture program made dog biscuits from scratch to donate this year. One of the Leadership students proposed making a second type of care package designed specifically for women, which included feminine hygiene products. Forty-five of these were assembled and donated for the first time this year.
In the first year of the project, Pion and her students worked with the Old Brewery Mission, who recommended contents for the care packages since they know from experience what the homeless need the most. That year, Horizon High students prepared sixty packages, and then personally distributed them to needy people on the streets of Montreal.
The packages were in incredibly high demand, and all of them were given out in less than half an hour. For the past two years, they made twice as many, but were unable to distribute them in-person due to the pandemic.
The students got a chance to hear about the people they were helping from the various organizations that they donated to. For example, the person who runs Blankets for the Homeless came to the school to pick up the donations and then spoke with the students, providing insight as to who exactly would be receiving them.
Asked about the non-pedagogical benefits of the program, Pion noted “It makes people feel good to help their community.”
And how does she feel about the work they do? “I feel tremendous pride when I see them making a difference.”