Kate Smirfitt drew on her own personal experience of being a young child trapped in hospital with nothing to do – and has since parlayed that into a kindness project that keeps giving in the form of activity bags.
At the age of nine, Kate was rushed to Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody with an appendicitis attack.
“I just remember I was bored the entire time and just wanted something to do,” she said of her hospital visit.
Fast forward a few years, and as a member of Haney Scout, she was seeking a chief scout award that required her to embark on a community services project.
“I wanted to give back and help the local hospital,” she said, suddenly recounted her own experience.
Armed with some advice and suggestions from other in her scouting troop, she launched a bottle drive, saved up some money, then went shopping with a goal of creating about 20 activity bags she could deliver to kids – like her – stuck in hospital and craving stimulation.
Sharing her time between her mom’s house in Port Moody and her father’s home in Maple Ridge, she picked Ridge Meadows Hospital as the recipient.
After making her first delivery in 2019, Kate received a “nice” email from a young girl who’d been given one of her activity bags. Enclosed was a picture of the youngster in her hospital bed, surrounded by all the items in the bag.
“She had a huge smile on her face. It made me so happy,” Kate shared. “It pushed me to keep going.”
Over the course of the past few years, she’s since delivered about 150 such activity bags to the local hospital, the latest and largest contribution of 68 bags dropped off earlier this month.
The latest bags were packed with crayons, markers, note pads, colouring books, playing cards, checker boards, and tiny wooden toys to colour and play with.
“I hope it makes time slightly more enjoyable,” she said.
Kate’s donations have been routed through the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, and her ongoing charity has been appreciated, said Deanne Lackey, development officer for the foundation.
“Over the last four years, Kate has returned time and time again to the hospital with these activity bags that she creates using money from collecting returnables. Kate’s latest donation is an incredible 68 activity bags,” Lackey said, inspired by the teenager’s commitment.
Having graduated from Riverside Secondary this year, Kate is heading off to study biology (with an interest in a career as a marine biologist) at the University of Victoria this fall.
She’s not too sure if and how she can logistically continue the activity bag project locally, but she’s hoping to work out a way.
“It’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing,” said Kate.
Either way, Lackey wanted to express thanks and best wishes: “We want to thank her for her support of the RMH Foundation over the years and wish her nothing but the best on her next big adventure.”
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