Backpacks for the Homeless

St. Stephen’s Christmas Outreach

“Backpacks for the Homeless”

This is the seventh year that our Christmas outreach includes providing filled backpacks for The Mustard Seed’s “Socks and Backpacks” program, in support of the homeless. At Inn From The Cold, we see how many homeless people carry all of their possessions in one bag. Yet many of the bags are in terrible condition and do not contain even the basic necessities. In response, let us assemble at least 50 good quality, medium-sized backpacks for men and fill them with must-have and nice-to-have items (see list over).

The sign up sheet and needs list is in the Narthex. Donate as much cash or as many items as you can. Please complete the sign up sheets so we know what is being donated. Items may be brought to the Church office during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9 – 12) or delivered during any of our Worship services. All donations must be received by Sunday, December 9. Bags will be packed on Saturday, December 15 and blessed on December 16 at the 10:30 am service.

For information contact Dave and Barb Driftmier at

403-288-6709 or by email at

 The following items are needed:

  • Good quality, medium size back pack
  • Pair of man’s warm socks
  • Bar of soap in a container
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush and tube of toothpaste
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Travel size lotion
  • Small package of Kleenex
  • Nail clippers
  • Razor
  • Lip Balm
  • Box of Band Aids
  • Notepad and pen
  • A book of transit tickets
  • Gift card for movie theatre
  • Gift card for coffee or food (eg: Tim Hortons, McDonalds)
  • A Christmas card from St. Stephen’s with a personal note of encouragement (cards are in a basket by the sign up sheet.)
  • Financial donation with which we can purchase items we are missing. Please mark your cheque “Backpack Project” and put in a collection plate during the service.


If you choose to donate a filled backpack, please use the above list as your guide.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–November 18, 2012


Nothing makes Giving easier, or more natural, than a full and thankful heart. In fact, as Christians, the only way to give is joyfully, as an expression of thanksgiving for God’s extravagant goodness to us. Anything else—duty, obligation, compliance—is not a gift at all. For the Apostle Paul reminds us: God loves a cheerful giver!

We are thinking of Giving this week as this year’s Stewardship Campaign wraps up. For six weeks we have been reminded both of the real needs of our world, and also of the many blessings we have received here at St. Stephen’s. Putting the two together, the action required of all of us becomes clear: Freely give, as freely we have received.

The need we have focused on these last weeks is homelessness here in Calgary. A few years ago, as the City began its Ten Years to End Homelessness, we noticed a remarkable drop in children and young families staying as our guests at Inn From the Cold. But the trend has now reversed itself (perhaps through migration of so many to this part of the country, looking for work) and now we are seeing as many young families as ever.

The Giving we have focussing on is Time, Talent and Treasure, wherever we ourselves know the most abundance. Time implies volunteering; Talent involves engaging our skills and experience; and Treasure means money. However you feel called to share in God’s work, we are all blessed by your full and thankful heart!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–November 11, 2012


This year marks the 93rd celebration of Remembrance Day across the British Commonwealth. The public gatherings at Cenotaphs across the country are part of what it means to be Canadian, and rather than celebrating a glorious triumph over our enemies, we commemorate it instead as a ritual vigil over the dead.  The Last Post signals the close of the day, the minutes of silence pass by as a night watch guarding the remains of the fallen from harm, and the Reveille marks the dawn of a new day.  And in the Christian tradition, the Reveille also offers the hope of resurrection and the reawakening of the dead and the living to share in God’s eternal kingdom.  The red of the poppies, sometimes said to represent the red of British uniforms, can also represent the “red martyrdom” of violent death in God’s service.

With the passing of time, and the diversity of Canadian society, the history of the First and Second World Wars may have little poignancy for many people.  In 2010, Canada lost its last Veteran from the First World War, in which 147 young people from St. Stephen’s served, and 26 died.  We commemorate Remembrance Day, not only “Lest We Forget” all those who lost their lives in service to their country, but also lest we forget what the cost of war truly is, even for the victors – lest we forget the things which are truly important to us as humans, for generations passed as for generations to come.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–November 04, 2012


This week we have witnessed the confluence of two commemorations: All Saints’ Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. Add to this the secular celebration of Halloween, and there seems to be a lot of talk of the dead going on this time of year.

All Saints’ Day is the oldest of these annual events, a celebration of the lives of the Christian Saints, traceable from the 4th Century. Originally celebrated in the spring (which is still the case in the Eastern Orthodox tradition), it showed up on November 1st in the 8th Century. Shortly thereafter it was lengthened to a week-long celebration, which is why we still refer to the ‘Octave of All Saints’ (and celebrate the day on the Sunday that falls within the octave).

All Souls’ Day references not just the well-known Saints but the souls of all the faithful departed. It dates back to the French Benedictine communities of the 10th Century. Often, in the Bible, all the faithful are called “saints” so it is unclear if this celebration was conceived as a populist attempt to close the gap between the heroes of the faith and everyday Christians.

Then of course there is Halloween, a contraction of ‘All Hallows Eve’, a reference to All Saints’ (‘hallowed’ meaning ‘holy’, hence, ‘all the holy ones’). Placed on the last night of the ancient Celtic calendar, it wants to add, “… and all the others too”, ushering the profane into the company of the holy.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–October 28, 2012 Special Edition


One of the many gifts of Christian community is the storytelling shared by its members. A church puts us in contact with people whose lives are not like our own, whose stories both challenge and enrich us.

Take the story of John from the South Sudan. Until last year John had not returned home in 28 years, having been a refugee in Syria and then an immigrant to Canada. As civil strife and ethnic tensions raged in his home country, leading to the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, John could only watch helplessly from afar as word trickled back about the welfare of his family members.

So last year, through a major gift to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, we helped to send John home for a visit. We sent him with a small amount of cash to help with his expenses, but also with a mission: to return with suggestions of ways we might be able to help.

The new nation of South Sudan is desperately poor. John’s family lives in several villages in the sparsely populated central region of the country, where flooding is an annual threat, where there are no security forces to protect the villagers from incursions by marauding bandits, and where UN and medical services are several days’ walk away. These are difficulties too great and complex for us to alter.

But John has told us there is something we can do to help provide a better future for the South Sudanese. Education being the great equalizer, the local schools need notebooks and pencils, without which the children cannot do their work. The expense to us would be nominal, yet the effect would be far-reaching.

So we are now receiving special donations to our Outreach Beyond fund in order to supply the two schools of John’s home town with school supplies. Cheques can be made out to “St. Stephen’s Church” with “Outreach Beyond” as a Memo.

As the world becomes smaller, and our furthest neighbours show up as members of our own congregation, their stories become our own, and we feel compelled to play a part—however small—in the “healing of the nations”. Thank you for your generous response.