More than 300 people in need will be receiving stockings stuffed with individually wrapped presents on Christmas Day thanks to the generosity of a five-year-old Maple Ridge boy and his mother.
Colton Devries collected enough items to fill 316 stockings that he plans to deliver to the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries on Christmas Eve.
Each stocking will be left on the ends of every bed at the shelter and transitional shelter for people to wake up to.
Stockings will also be shared with those at Alouette Heights Supportive Housing, for low-income tenants in the community who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“We just wanted to do something to give back,” said Colton’s mother Tia Anderson.
She added that the idea came to them because Colton wanted to give back and she wanted him and his little sister to learn about helping those in the community.
“I just want my kids to be kind. I want them to be passionate about people and I think it’s so tough, especially when they are young to explain and to show them ways to be giving and the whole sense of karma,” said Anderson.
Colton, a kindergarten student at Golden Ears elementary, started filling stockings for those in need four years ago after he found out from his mother that some people had to sleep outside.
Anderson said that for the first couple of years he told her that they should just buy all the homeless people houses, but soon compromised with his mother on filling stockings, an idea they hatched together as they thought about how much joy they had as a family opening up presents from their own stockings on Christmas morning.
“You get to unwrap 15 things in your stocking, it’s all little stuff, and it’s fun,” said Anderson.
The first year, Colton and his mother managed to fill 45 to 50 stockings with items like gloves, hats, socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toiletry items, candy, granola bars and other basic daily essentials.
At the time, they lived in Walnut Grove and donated the stockings locally.
Each year, Colton collected more and more items for his stockings, mostly from family and friends.
When they moved to Maple Ridge two years ago, they partnered with the Salvation Army.
Last year, they collected enough for 75 stockings.
Whatever is leftover from the stocking stuffers is donated to the shelter, as well.
Colton started this year’s campaign at the end of November.
They began wrapping the gifts mid-December with the help of friends.
Anderson said it is important to them that everything is individually wrapped in the stockings.
”I think that if that’s all somebody is going to get for Christmas, it’s a few moments of joy … I don’t care how old you are, unwrapping presents always gives you a little bit of excitement and a little bit of joy,” she said,
Colton’s favourite part is putting the gifts in the stockings.
“It’s kind,” he said.