Curious George would have been proud Friday night (May 4).
There were plenty of men in yellow hats....and women in yellow hats....and some kids in yellow hats as well. The first ever Yellow Hat Gala for Stephen's Backpacks was held Friday night at the Apple Creek Golf Course. It was a sold out event with 200 adults and around 60 kids. Executive Director Nancy McPhee said she really didn't know what to expect from the evening so she made sure that they put their heart and soul into getting ready for it and, in the end, it was all worth it.
"I can't even put into words how much Airdrie touched the hearts of myself, my family and Stephen's Backpacks."
McPhee's "man in the yellow hat" was her late husband Jim who passed away a year ago. The evening was a tribute to Jim, but Nancy wanted it to be more than that and more than about helping children in need.
"I wanted it to be something really memorable. That people wore this yellow hat as a sign of 'I'm committed to lighting up Airdrie. I'm committed to taking action and doing something to make Airdrie an even better place to live in. That was what I really wanted to have happen in the evening and it surpassed all my expectations."
The kid's event, a Star Wars themed evening, took place downstairs at the golf club. McPhee said they didn't stay there all night though.
"We had kids come upstairs and actually teach every table how to make a backpack, and we had every table make a backpack. There's going to be 35 kids blessed next week as I take those backpacks to one of the shelters."
McPhee said 2018 is coming together well for Stephen's Backpacks.
"We had a tremendous offer from Westjet. They're going to come out and volunteer to do our Back To School backpacks. They're donating two tickets for anywhere they fly in the world to us so we're going to be raffling those off to help with the Back To School backpacks. 100 Men chose Stephen's Backpacks last week after I did a presentation so that will cover the costs of our Back To School backpacks so Rocky View Schools, the backpacks that we provide for them are completely covered now."
Stephen's Backpacks will also hold their Canada Day fundraiser at Superstore and are busy planning their Christmas backpack project. "That will start organizing things around October."
McPhee said she has a long-term vision for Stephen's Backpacks.
"Right now we're kind of in a basement in Calgary but my long-term dream is to have bay doors so we can actually move backpacks a little easier when you're doing 4,000 backpacks a year, and to have five or so charities under one roof sharing resources and volunteers."
Shorter term, McPhee said she plans to keep listening to her son Stephen and keep helping children. Stephen too thought Friday night's gala was a tremendous success said Nancy.
"He was so blown away. Stephen doesn't say a lot but he managed to get up to the mic, as overwhelmed as he was with all those new people there, and he said 'thank you' to everybody for helping him. He even had somebody approach him from the golf course and has agreed to give him free golf lessons, which would certainly make his dad smile in heaven as I could never quite get the hang of that game."
McPhee calls the Yellow Hat Gala an evening beyond belief and said, "I think if I had to sum it up, it was probably the hardest year of our life in terms of the first of everything without my soulmate but last night was the best night of the year for me. Just the love and the support and the kind words and the embracing of the community to kind of lift my arms up and say 'you can keep going Nancy and Stephen's Backpacks can keep going. You got this, and we've got your back. That's what I took away from the evening."
Questions, comments or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]