Darrel August, left, teacher Matt Kuzminski and Tobias Gillman, with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ learning alternatives program, distributed care packages to people experiencing homelessness on Dec. 11. (Submitted photo)

Darrel August, left, teacher Matt Kuzminski and Tobias Gillman, with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ learning alternatives program, distributed care packages to people experiencing homelessness on Dec. 11. (Submitted photo)

Nanaimo students who have experienced homelessness give to people living rough

Learning alternatives students distribute care packages

Two Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district students who have experienced homelessness are organizing an initiative to help those living on the streets.

Tobias Gillman and Darrel August, learning alternatives students, were looking for an inquiry project where they could direct their energy toward helping those without homes, and had the idea of creating a website to generate funding for the destitute in the community, said teacher Matt Kuzminski. The website is in the works, but the students wanted to help in the interim.

“Something they decided they wanted to do in the meantime was to put together some care packages for the homeless people,” said Kuzminski. “They were connected and knew some of the people from the Wesley Street encampment, which got shut down [recently]. So with that in their minds, they really wanted to do something to help.”

August said the idea came about after a previous act of generosity.

“Me and my friend were walking around downtown and we got something to drink,” said August. “He didn’t really want his drink, so he gave it to a homeless person and her face lit up with a smile. We both know what it’s like for that to happen, so we started talking and asked Matt for help.”

Materials from the community, including jackets, socks, tuques, food, toiletries and money were gathered and 25 care packages were put together, with the two students taking the lead, Kuzminski said. The students and teacher distributed the packages last Friday.

August said he knows the mindset of someone who lives on the street.

“It was just the thoughts that I had when I was homeless: ‘What am I going to eat? Where am I going to stay? What am I going to wear?,’” said August. “My motivation was … mainly because I know how it feels not eating for a while.”

The three said people showed gratitude when given the packages.

“They were really happy, excited … I felt good,” said Gillman.

“We hit up a lot of the spots that those guys are familiar with and we handed out those packages,” said Kuzminski. “Obviously, what makes it such a huge thing is, first of all, it was their idea, and second of all, is both of these two y0ung gentlemen have experienced pretty significant periods of homelessness in their lives too … they knew some of the people that we handed stuff out to. The people were so appreciative.”

Kuzminski said the website is a project that the students will work on in the new year.

RELATED: Wesley Street homeless encampment dismantled after fire

RELATED: ‘Wesley Warriors’ criticize city for bulldozing camp


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Greater Victoria is defying national and provincial employment trends as the unemployment rate in December dropped to 5.8 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
Dropping unemployment rate in Greater Victoria defies national and provincial picture

Broader trends such as high youth unemployment are solidifying

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns (Black Press Media file photo)
Charity’s plan to flip tax-exempt greenspace to development angers Metchosin mayor

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria tight-lipped on land plans

Editorial: We’re on the right path to address homelessness

Housing first model can only help improve the situation

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has expressed his frustration with harassment of people who have made racist comments online about Cowichan Tribes in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak in the First Nation. (Citizen file)
Island mayor calls for de-escalation as social media gets uglier in racism fight

“Racism is wrong. But so is this kind of reaction”:

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Laurie Arbuthnot, owner of Wild Coast Perfumery in Cowichan Bay, poses with some of her products. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Opening Wild Coast Perfumery a dream come true for Cowichan Bay owner

Only business of its kind on the Island outside Victoria makes natural, plant-based perfumes

Patty Golumbia and Holly Mair, teacher-librarians at South Island Distance Education, have launched a Read Across Canada challenge for their students. (Courtesy of Holly Mair)
Victoria students gobble up books on virtual trek across Canada

Nearly 40 South Island Distance Education students are participating

The Kerry Park Islanders and Peninsula Panthers battle during a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game in November 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League hasn’t given up on season

Games can’t resume until at least February, but league brass still hopeful

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Todd Stone says he’s not running for B.C. Liberal leadership

Kamloops MLA was widely viewed as a front-runner

Most Read