Our community is full of awesome people, but one school teacher has been standing out from the crowd.
Chantal Stefan has been leading students on a mission to give back to our community.
If you haven’t heard of the Everyone Deserves a Smile program, she’s the heart behind it.
It’s a program that has been assisting vulnerable and homeless residents in the Comox Valley and other communities for years.
Chantal started it years ago, back when she was living in Alberta.
She saw a man digging through a garbage bin one cold winter night in Edmonton.
“I wish I could meet that man,” said Chantal to Comox Valley News “He changed my life.”
Following the encounter, she was moved to start the Everyone Deserves a Smile project.
She and a few friends would fill handmade decorated present bags with mittens, socks, and other treats. They would place them in alleyways as a kind of Santa Claus project for people living on the streets.
Since moving to Comox, she’s brought the project with her, and scaled it up a lot.
Her students have helped along the way.
To date, students and other EDAS volunteers have handed out 23,000 holiday care packages.
They’re given out to shelters, soup kitchens, support agencies and people living on the streets.
Julia Chard, a past student who took part in the project, decided her old teacher should get a little more recognition.
She nominated Chantal, or “Ms. Stefan” for one of the province’s most prestigious awards.
No big shock. She won.
Chantal will be one of 15 people presented with BC’s Good Citizenship Medal next year.
“It’s an honour to award these individuals with the Medal of Good Citizenship,” Premier David Eby said in a news release. “Each one of them embodies the traits of generosity, kindness and sacrifice for the benefit of others. Their actions touch so many lives, creating better communities throughout BC.”
While Chantal was incredibly moved by the gesture, she said she’ll be accepting the award on behalf of all the students, teachers, and all other volunteers who’ve given the project life.
“Something like that doesn’t happen without incredible people working hard behind the scenes,” said Chantal. “It’s truly remarkable. I’m so proud of everybody. I feel so much love for our community.”
By the end of this season, the program will have reached 26,000 people.
The EDAS team still needs about scarves to give out before Christmas! Scarves are still being accepted today! (Friday, December 9th)
They can be dropped off at Puntledge Park Elementary.
All the care packages will be delivered this weekend!