Ski pants and bags of fruit: Gift requests from Winnipeg kids bring tears to paramedic's eyes
Response to gift-giving project Tags for Tots 'overwhelming,' says Connie Bazin
Winnipeg paramedic Connie Bazin didn't know what to expect when she launched a gift-giving project that allows schoolchildren in need to choose a present they'd like most.
The responses brought tears to her eyes.
One child asked for his own ski pants because he had to share a pair with his siblings. Another asked for a backpack because the old one was lost in a fire.
Other children asked for cold-weather gear like coats, mitts and tuques. One asked for a bag of fruit – apples, oranges and bananas.
"I was very proud of them for not asking for an Xbox. They [were] asking for things that they truly needed," Bazin said.
The Winnipeg paramedic sees hardships people deal daily basis through her job, and was inspired to start Tags for Tots after hearing about a similar project in New York City.
This year, the project is working with two Winnipeg schools. Bazin and her husband made tags that were dropped off at the schools, and teachers helped students write their wishes on the tags.
The tags are then hung on a tree at Winnipeg Fire Station 11, where people can pick a tag and then drop off the gift once it has been purchased.
Bazin and her colleagues will then personally deliver them to the children at each of the schools on Dec. 15 and 18.
Bazin started by posting a message on Facebook about the program on Nov. 17, with a deadline of having the gifts bought and returned to the station by this Saturday.
The response from the public has been "overwhelming" and all tags have been picked, she said.
"I was a little worried that I would end up with a lot of disappointed kids on my hands, or that my husband and I would end up buying all the gifts. But people have been messaging me non-stop asking for more tags," she said.
"It's amazing how generous Winnipeg has been in such a short amount of time."
This year's project is helping 40 children between ages four and 13, but Bazin hopes to quadruple that next year. She says she has received responses from many more people looking to help.
"I've got quite a few people who have been asking for more tags or a little bit upset that they weren't able to help out this year," she said.
"But hopefully this will be even bigger next year and everybody who wants one will be able to get a tag."
With files from Bridget Forbes