Delivering Joy to Families in Need

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Delivering Joy to Families in Need

It began with Stephen’s Dream: “Mommy we have to help them.”
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Stephen’s Backpacks is bringing joy into children’s lives. TransCanada is a proud sponsor of @StephensDream.
Friday, December 18, 2015 - 12:55pm

CAMPAIGN: TransCanada Community Investment


Every day, you don't have to look far to find a family in need. Once again TransCanada's employees and families have opened their hearts to help those in need at a time of year when a helping hand is appreciated the most.

This holiday season, three charities, including Stephen's Backpacks, the Calgary Food Bank and Tennessee's food bank (The Well), were the focus of those big hearts.

Stephen's Backpacks continues bringing joy into children's lives

There’s no denying this will be a tougher year than many in terms of Christmas mornings around Alberta. But as always, Stephen’s Backpacks is working to help children whose families are in need by distributing 5,000 backpacks to non-profits and shelters across the province.

Stephen, an autistic boy from southern Alberta, started collecting items for children in need in 2006 when he was six. It began with the simple words, “Mommy we have to help them.”

Local charity has delivered more than 18,000 backpacks to children in need

Since then, Stephen’s Backpacks has grown tremendously from 15 backpacks in the family living room to more than 18,000 backpacks delivered to date. Ten years later, new challenges and opportunities face the charity as they work to expand and serve even more communities across the prairies.

“I think one of the greatest gifts that touched my heart was TransCanada this year,” said Nancy McPhee, Stephen’s Backpacks program manager and Stephen’s mother.

“I know about the difficulties of life and TransCanada just dug so deep. You have loved us since 2008, when a TransCanada representative heard about our cause and came to find us and deliver a cheque.” — Nancy McPhee

TransCanada's employees step up once again with a truckload of donated toys

In the seven years since then, TransCanada has conducted three toy drives, and donated more than $38,000 and a fleet vehicle to the cause. Earlier this month, TransCanada employees in Calgary and Airdrie took part in the 2015 TransCanada Toy Drive, donating a dozen boxes of toys in support of this year’s Stephen’s Backpacks initiative. The toys filled the truck and the backseats, too.

“TransCanada had some big helper elves with big hearts who helped us stuff the truck this year,” said Sam Lodge, program coordinator for Empower, TransCanada’s giving, volunteering and engagement program.

“We were expecting fewer donations due to the economic climate, but I was surprised and humbled to see our employees and contractors were more generous than ever.” — Sam Lodge

Supporting the vision that every child deserves their own special gift

For many Alberta children, their only gift this holiday season will be these backpacks. This program supports the vision that every child deserves to open their own special gift and know they’ve been thought of and cared for during the holiday season.

Stephen's Backpacks is supporting more than 47 different agencies and groups this holiday season and by Saturday they will have 4,000 backpacks to distribute.

“Even in this downturn you hung on tight and still gave all you could. And everybody just dug deep. I was in awe,” added McPhee. “You guys are a really big organization and we’re a little charity that doesn’t have a home yet. And you know, when people come through like you guys, it makes us feel so positive about what we’re doing.”

Want to donate or take part in backpack delivery?

To donate or take part in the delivery of backpacks this year, visit Or attend the Christmas Backpack Finale this Saturday, Dec. 19, between 1 and 3 p.m. at the warehouse space located at 3319 26 Ave N.E. in Calgary.

TransCanada is proud to support organizations, such as Stephen’s Backpacks Society, that make a positive difference in the communities where we live and work. Learn about our community investment activities on a or visit our Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Triple 500 Challenge will help feed the hungry in Tennessee

Meanwhile, employees and contractors in our Thompson’s Station office in Tennessee banded together to support their local food bank, The Well, this holiday season.

“Food banks are particularly stressed during the holidays, and we have a local organization that is very active in supporting our community,” says Seth Johnson, Mechanical Specialist in our Mid America Region. “It is an excellent opportunity for TransCanada to embrace the area and community that surrounds our office.”

“Seth came to us all with a challenge for our Regional Office to step up and help our local food pantry, The Well,” says Lorrie Murgas, Associate for the region.

“He (Seth Johnson, TransCanada), issued the ‘Triple 500 Challenge’ for our group to gather at least 500 food items, 500 packages of ramen noodles (an item requested by The Well) and $500 in donations through our Empower program.” — Lorrie Murgas

Challenge accepted. In the end, they collected over 500 food items totaling 561 pounds, as well as 630 packages of Ramen, and $635 donated through Empower, which TransCanada will match through the team fundraising program.

For more information on The Well and their community programs, visit

More than $20,000 raised for Calgary Food Bank

Personnel in the Calgary area were issued a fundraising challenge too in early December.

Empower challenged employees and contractors to donate $5,000 to the food bank in a month. If they hit the fundraising target, TransCanada would donate an additional $5,000 to the cause. As of December 17, they’ve raised more than $15,300 in donations and matching, which means in excess of $20,000 for the Calgary Food Bank during the busy holiday season.

More than 140,000 people have used the Calgary Food Bank so far this year, 41 per cent of which are children — that's five per cent more than the national average. On average, 61 per cent of users are families and 21 per cent of users are from single-parent households. There has been a 23 per cent increase in the need for Calgary Food Bank's services in just the first quarter of 2015.

Why monetary and not food donations? Financial gifts enable the Calgary Food Bank to purchase fresh produce as well as run essential services and programs. Every dollar donated allows the Calgary Food Bank to distribute $5 worth of food.

To give time, food or monetary donations to the Calgary Food Bank visit

Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Stephen's Backpacks | TransCanada

CAMPAIGN: TransCanada Community Investment