Glenlyon Norfolk School students hopping to action
After last year’s success of the inaugural Bunny Bags program, the Seed Ladies are back with some new recruits.
The students of Glenlyon Norfolk School’s Student Voice program will be helping Seed Ladies co-founder Shannon Phillips.
The Seed Ladies – who aim to bring awareness to poverty in the community and support The Mustard Seed Food Bank – launched Bunny Bags, treat bags filled with candy and a stuffed animal, in 2012, collecting and distributing more than 300 bags.
“Last year I approached the Mustard Seed about it because it had occurred to me they probably don’t have anything like that for the kids when they come in at Easter,” she said.
With an opportunity available, Phillips began collecting stuffed animals, chocolates and any other Easter-related treats.
Being the mother of daughters attending Glenlyon, Phillips contacted those she knew at the school, collecting nearly 90 per cent of the bags’ contents from the school.
“This year I’m doing it a bit differently,” she said. “The students are going to do a stuffy drive for the bags, and I’m going to collect the chocolates and probably more stuffys as well.”
Another variation on last year’s model is that Phillips will be delivering the Bunny Bags to the Mustard Seed at the beginning of March instead of at Easter, because most parents come in earlier in the month.
“It’s kind of pushed things up for me, which is hard because a lot of the stores don’t have their Easter stuff out yet and a lot of people aren’t really thinking about Easter,” she said.
Donations are needed for the bags. If you’d like to donate, contact Phillips by email at email@example.com or visit the Seed Ladies’ website at seedladies.com.
Oak Bay hops to help Mustard Seed
Shannon Phillips’ living room looks like the inside of an Easter basket, complete with stuffed toys and chocolatey goodness.
The Oak Bay resident has been collecting Easter goodies from within her community that will be distributed to children whose parents rely on the Mustard Seed Food Bank for help.
Of the 300 goodie bags that Phillips is hoping to assemble, 190 are ready to go. Phillips is hopeful more people will come forward with chocolate donations so that more children will wake up to Easter treats on April 8.
“My kids are five and seven and Easter is a huge, huge deal,” she said. “The Easter Bunny leaves eggs in the yard, and there’s always a toy.”
When Phillips contacted the Mustard Seed in January with an offer of help, Fran Kitson, told her the church’s Bunny Bags program needed support.
Through that initiative, Easter supplies are collected and then distributed to families with children.
“We’re not just a food bank,” said Kitson, Mustard Seed advocacy co-ordinator. “We are a church that ministers to the whole person and try and meet the need that they have for whatever reason they are coming.”
More and more families are coming through their door for support, particularly the working poor.
“They need more than food when they come for food,” Kitson said, adding clients may need everything from counselling to a birthday cake.”
“We all need that little Easter egg, or we all need the birthday cake,” she said. “We all need that little extra.”
When Phillips, through the Seed Ladies grassroots initiative she co-founded last year to support charities, asked the community for donations, the response was tremendous.
Oak Bay dentist Dr. Cheryl Handley donated 300 toothbrushes, while Ross Bay and Emmanuel preschools helped spread the word about the project, and collected treats.
Parents of Glenlyon Norfolk schoolchildren contributed 90 per cent of the goodies that have taken over Phillips’ living room.
“People have been walking up to me and handing me bags of chocolate, bags of stuffies,” Phillips said. “It’s been incredible.”
A look ahead
The Seed Ladies will next meet at the Penny Farthing Old English Pub on May 16 at 7 p.m.
Participants are asked to bring in-kind donations for the Mustard Seed Street Church.
For details, go to www.seedladies.com
Planting a seed for a cash-strapped charity
By Sam Van Schie - Oak Bay News
Published: October 26, 2011 10:00 AM
Dropping off a box of toys at the Mustard Seed food bank last winter, Shannon Phillips realized that her small gesture could go a long way to brighten the day for members of struggling families.
“The first time I went there it was raining and I saw a woman, pregnant and pushing a stroller, trying to balance the food she’d picked up,” recalled Phillips, an Oak Bay mother of two. “I just felt like I could do more for people like her.”
Phillips went through her home looking for more items to donate and asked some of her friends to do the same. She also contacted doctors’ offices, asking them to donate formula samples nearing expiry.
These days, she drives around picking up donations once a month to deliver to the Mustard Seed.
“I always have a full trunk and the seats folded down to fit everything,” said Phillips, who has taken a shine to being called the “seed lady.”
She’s set up fundraisers benefiting the food bank, including a recent pub night at the Penny Farthing where she collected donations of school supplies.
Now she’s looking for women to join her efforts. She’s in the process of developing a website with friend Meghan Bowes to reach potential organizers and donors for future events.
The seed ladies, as they call themselves, aren’t limiting themselves to supporting the Mustard Seed. They’re also collecting donations for Christmas hampers, and plan to hold a soup night at London Chef, both to raise funds for the Victoria Women’s Transition House.
“We’re very grassroots and just willing to try whatever ideas come to us,” Phillips said. “We want to make giving to charity easy and fun and social.”
To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know?
While the Mustard Seed primarily distributes food, it also accepts:
• Clothing for all ages
• Toys, car seats and learning supplies
• Household goods
• Cash, including automatic monthly donations charged to credit cards
• Volunteers to help with daily operations