Erin Schulte said “donations poured in” after she called out to the community to donate Christmas cards in October, as part of her efforts to bring holiday cheer to the homeless for the second year in a row.
It’s an initiative she’s dubbed the “Christmas Card Collective.”
“I needed 3,200, but received over 5,000,” said Schulte, a North Delta resident. “So many amazing people from our local community, and cards literally came in from all over the country.”
She said she’s particularly grateful to Aline Greeting Cards and Minuteman Press, which donated 1,000 and 500 cards, respectively.
Schulte’s concept is simple: Collect Christmas cards, distribute them to people who can fill them with well wishes and heart-warming words, then send them to homeless shelters to place upon pillows during the holidays.
“Ideally, I want one on each bed for three days before Christmas,” she said. “I want them to look forward to them each night.”
As a result of the outpouring of generosity of those donating the cards, Schulte said Surrey Urban Mission and the city’s shelters run by Lookout Housing and Health Society will receive cards in the days leading up to Christmas.
But the cards will be going much, much farther than that, with some destined for homeless shelters in Red Deer, Vernon, Toronto, a Seattle youth shelter, and even all the way to the Los Angeles Mission.
“With the postal strike came the worry of how I would get the cards delivered,” Schulte explained. But VanKam Freightways offered to deliver to shelters in Red Deer and Vernon and the company Schulte works for, Hercules Freight, is delivering the cards to Toronto and Los Angeles shelters.
“I personally will be driving the Seattle ones to the youth shelter,” Schulte added.
Before the cards make their way to shelters, another big job lies ahead: Schulte needs about 3,500 cards filled with Christmas wishes.
“Classrooms, sports teams, hospital units, Fortis employees, workplaces, Sparks and Girl Guides have all been writing in cards,” she told the Now-Leader, but more are needed.
And time is quickly running out.
“We literally have until around Dec. 17,” said Schulte.
Schulte, who used to run a Pop-Up Soup Kitchen on 135A Street, said her work along the infamous road motivated her to launch the project last year.
She was “overwhelmed” with the “amazing” outpouring of community support in year one, ultimately collecting and distributing an estimated 1,000 cards in 2017 after initially setting out to collect just 225.
“Seeing so many that didn’t have family to spend Christmas with,” she said, when asked about her inspiration. “They had nothing to look forward to.”
This year, Schulte is taken aback by how the project has exploded in popularity.
“The thing that has made this year so different is where the cards took us,” she said. “The end result is getting these cards on the beds for the three days leading up to Christmas but it has brought so much more. Conversations about compassion and homelessness and the true meaning of Christmas have been happening around so many dinner tables and class rooms. I have been blessed to speak to many groups about giving back and putting a dream into motion and that Christmas is not about making lists. Christmas is not about things we buy.
“Christmas comes from your heart,” Schulte added. “It’s in how you give of yourself to others to make the season that bit brighter.”
Schulte asks others to help her “fill these cards with love.”