The Blessings in a Backpack campaign donated more than 200 backpacks to the guests of the Upper Room Mission in Vernon on Dec. 23, 2019. (Contributed)

The Blessings in a Backpack campaign donated more than 200 backpacks to the guests of the Upper Room Mission in Vernon on Dec. 23, 2019. (Contributed)

Pack a bag for a Vernonite in need

Vernon’s Upper Room Mission kicks off holiday campaign

Winter weather has already blanketed the valley and although it may not be here to stay yet, the snow is a reminder of what is to come: Christmas.

This holiday season, the Upper Room Mission (URM) is once again collecting backpacks filled with supplies to offer its clients.

The Blessings in a Backpack campaign has been in operation for more than 13 years and last year, 265 backpacks were handed out to those in need at the annual Christmas supper. But general manager Naomi Rouck said there were still some clients that needed one.

The Upper Room Mission will be collecting backpacks for children and adults until Dec. 20, 2020, but Rouck is asking donors to get them to the mission earlier to allow for some quarantine time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When people drop off a backpack, we do quarantine them for a while,” she said. “Just in case someone has had the virus — we want to lock them up.”

Donors are also reminded to label their pack for its intended recipient; boy, girl, man or woman.

“Last year, we ran out of more backpacks for men than we did for women,” Rouck said. “We had to throw things together for the men. People seem to tend to buy for women as they think it’s easier but in all reality, it’s easier to do for a man.”

Rouck said hygiene supplies are an excellent contribution to the backpacks, but other items can be added as well.

“People can put in hand and feet warmers, toothbrushes, a warm sweater, basic hygiene things, colouring books, crayons, flashlights, Q-Tips,” she said. “Baby wipes are a big, big thing for people who are on the streets.”

Masks are a welcome donation as well, she said.

“We do hand out masks right now too,” she said of the URM. “A lot of the people don’t want to wear them, but we try to encourage it. Especially with cases rising rapidly again.”

The backpacks will once again be distributed during the Christmas Supper on Dec. 23.

The goal this year is to collect more than 265 backpacks. Donations are accepted Monday through Thursday between 8-3 p.m.

The Upper Room Mission is operating at full capacity with COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in place, but the organization is short of volunteers, Rouck said.

“Yes! Please come and see me,” she said to any interested in lending a hand with the mission’s operations.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Breakfast is back at Vernon’s Upper Room Mission

READ MORE: Drive-thru donations accepted for Kal Rotary Dream Auction fundraiser


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

This is the third year Raymond Imbeau and Barbara Kitz have picked up cans in the backcountry and donated the proceeds to COSAR. (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue)
Kelowna couple cleans forests for Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

Raymond Imbeau and Barbara Kitz donated $3,200 to COSAR

The video was used for (KGH Foundation - YouTube)
Okanagan filmmaker, poet win at L.A. Film Awards

Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan wrote and filmmaker David Nault produced the commercial

The roof is rising at the Okanagan Wealth Advisors Pickleball Complex at Marshall Field (Nov. 30, 2020). (Contributed)
Raising the roof over Vernon Pickleball courts

Upon completion, Vernon will be home to country’s biggest dedicated Pickleball courts

Join Rob Dinwoodie and bandmates for a Cowboy Christmas, Dec. 11 and 12 at Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Seating is cabaret style on the stage for an intimate concert. (Contributed)
Vernon cowboys go virtual for Christmas

Cowboy Christmas streamed Dec. 11-25

Kimberly Feeny, left, rescues, fosters and homes cats with the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program. She and friend Lisa Valenta, right, spent Friday, Nov. 27 nursing seven resuced kitties at Feeny’s home in Grand Forks. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Kootenay women working to rescue 20 cats in feral colony

Kimberly Feeny and Lisa Valenta are nursing seven cats rescued east of Grand Forks, B.C.

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Salmon Arm RCMP say some patrons have been harassing local businesses over mask requirements. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Police urge respect after Salmon Arm businesses report being harassed over mask rules

Wearing of masks in businesses and public spaces is currently mandated by the province

Salmon Arm RCMP officers attended two public COVID-19 demonstrations held in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Nov. 28.  (File photo)
Organizer of Salmon Arm COVID-19 demonstration fined $2,000 by RCMP

Police said some participants weren’t aware of the public health order prohibiting gatherings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Sunny the cat, who jumped out of the truck at the Revelstoke Landfill earlier this month, was quickly reunited with his owners. (Contributed)
Cat returns home with the help of two landfill workers

Sunny jumped out of the truck at the landfill in November

Most Read