The remainder of winter became a slightly less harsh for a few dozen members of Vancouver's homeless community thanks to a 13-year-old girl. As part of her bat mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony, Aria Druker raised $3,000 dollars to put together 36 waterproof comfort kits containing wool blankets, warm winter hats, personal hygiene kits and McDonald's gift certificates to distribute to some of the city's neediest citizens.
On Wednesday morning, she joined Const. Jodyne Keller, the Vancouver Police Department's homeless outreach coordinator, on her citywide morning rounds checking on the well-being of people who prefer sleeping outside to staying inside an emergency shelter.
She is just amazing and knows all these people by name, said the York House School student, who helped raise the money from fellow classmates at the Shaughnessy all-girls school, her Richmond soccer team and through donations from 3 Vets camping supplies store. She tries really hard getting them in housing. She has one of these guys she's helped get on a list for housing and she was able to finally tell him he might finally might be getting one after waiting for two years.
Aria said she was struck by the selflessness of many of the people she met Wednesday morning. I was just blown away by how sharing they were, she said. One of the guys, he said, 'Y'know what? I don't need it. I know there are people out there who need it more than I do.' Another thing that I was really impressed by, we were on Broadway and one man was sleeping outside. We left a bag right beside where he sleeps but everybody knew that it was his and nobody would touch it. It was full of brand new things but nobody was going to take it.
Aria's mother, Rozanne Kipnes, said the desire to want to help other has always come naturally to her daughter.
When she was in Grade 3, they were raffling off a sleeping bag and she said, 'If I win that sleeping bag, I want to give it to a homeless person.' She didn't win but the notion didn't escape her. This is something she chose to do and it is something that has been very important to her for a very long time.