Spike in Edmonton homeless shelter donations after #Chrissysentme campaign

​Donations to Edmonton homeless shelters have spiked in the last 48 hours in memory of the Canadian victim of the London terror attack.
B.C. woman Christine Archibald was one of seven people killed during a pair of terror attacks in London. (Archibald family)

Donations to Edmonton homeless shelters have spiked in the last 48 hours in memory of the Canadian victim of the London terror attack.

Hope Mission, a non-profit homeless shelter in downtown Edmonton, reported $2,500 in total donations since June 5, with $1,000 directly linked to the #chrissysentme campaign organized by the family of Christine Archibald.

The Mustard Seed, a non-profit organization that works with Edmonton's homeless, reported an additional $3,000 in donations and 27 new volunteers since the online campaign started.

"We can't even begin to comprehend their [the Archibald family's] loss," said Richard Deschenes, chief development officer at the Mustard Seed. "We are clearly benefiting from this, but we are glad that Edmontonians are making a lasting impression."

Archibald, 30, originally from Castlegar, B.C., was one of the seven victims killed Saturday when attackers in a van ran down pedestrians on the London Bridge then stabbed several people.

A statement sent out Monday night by the Archibald family inspired an outpouring of support and volunteerism with the hashtag #chrissysentme.

"Volunteer your time and labour or donate to a homeless shelter. Tell them Chrissy sent you," the statement read.

Before Archibald moved to London with her fiance, she worked with homeless people in Calgary, doing social work at the Alpha House Society, a centre working with drug addicts.

The Mustard Seed Calgary office and Alpha House Society are close partners, Deschenes said, and are working together on a project to provide affordable housing to women who are homeless or have addictions.

Funds used for 'critical needs' in shelters

For Christopher Sturdy, psychology professor at the University of Alberta and casual volunteer, donating $54 to the Hope Mission felt like the right thing to do.

"When I heard about how to honour her memory ... I hopped out of bed and did it," he said. "It's always sad when someone dies in that traumatic way, but it's just compounded when you're in the prime of your life and you loved to give back to the community." 

Robin Padanyi, spokesperson for Hope Mission, said the funds will support Edmontonians going through tough times.

"The money will help those in a season of crisis that Chrissy really had a heart for," he said. "[It will] give these people an opportunity to change their lives."

Deschenes said most of the Mustard Seed's donations come in December, so money coming in now will help support the homeless population during the summer months.

Representatives from both organizations said the funds will go towards "pressing needs" but specific programs are not clear yet.

Padanyi said Hope Mission's funds will likely be directed to their 24/7 van, bringing emergency water, bagged lunches and clothes to homeless people.

For Deschenes, the influx of new volunteers is what Mustard Seed values most.

"They are donating their time, which we know is more and more precious these days," he said.

The increase in donations for homeless shelters comes on the same day Alberta's government pledged $1.7 million in upgrades and support for the 1,700 people living on Edmonton's streets.