From a few batches of cookies she baked herself and donated to one shelter, the Valley’s Stacy Middlemiss has seen her Caring with Cookies idea grow to offer help to the needy all across southern Vancouver Island.
“I started Caring with Cookies in 2007 when I was trying to remind myself what Christmas was really about,” she said.
“The first couple of years, the small freezer above my fridge was enough to store the cookies and I believe I only donated to one shelter.”
But, every year the event continues to grow.
“We went from just 360 packages in 2012 to 977 in 2014…that’s 5,862 cookies in total,” she said.
Middlemiss admits that hers is only one of many initiatives to help the unfortunate but she thinks it’s really worthwhile.
“I know that cookies aren’t going to end homelessness or change the world but I feel like if I can remind the recipients, who are down on their luck and probably missing their families, that someone out there is thinking of them then it’s worth it,” she explained.
Caring means sharing to Middlemiss.
“These people didn’t ask for their lives to turn out they way they did; many of them are struggling with addictions and/or are the product of some kind of abuse. One of my shelter contacts told me that Caring with Cookies is ‘a personal piece of love for people who have no people.’ I like that,” she said.
So, how does it all work?
“Volunteers bake cookies (some bake a dozen, some 10 dozen) and drop them off at one of the designated drop-off locations. We freeze the cookies throughout the month and, just before Christmas, my family gets together and packages them up into bags of about six each.”
Then the distribution starts.
“My husband and I get up very early on Christmas Eve morning and head out to deliver. We start out at 5 a.m. by meeting Rev. Al Tysick of the Dandelion Society and deliver cookies, coffee, cigarettes, and conversation to those people that literally sleep on the streets because they can’t stay in a shelter, for whatever reason. Then we deliver to nine other shelters (woman’s and homeless) in Victoria. Next, we head back to Duncan and deliver to Warmland House and then we’re off to Nanaimo to four other shelters. We are hoping to add a Ladysmith location this year as well. We leave it up to the individual shelters to hand out the cookies as they see fit because this project isn’t about me getting recognition from them for thinking about them. It’s about them feeling the love, no strings attached.”
Middlemiss said she wanted to thank “the hundreds of people that have shown such kindness over the past eight years in helping me make this idea of mine into something I never could have dreamt of. People start contacting me in September making sure that we are still on for this year. It has become a tradition in many households to bake cookies for this cause.”
Confirmed Cowichan Valley drop-off locations are: The Footwear Centre in Lake Cowichan; Cowichan Sound & Cellular in Duncan; and Uforik Computers in Ladysmith
For updates on drop-off locations, pictures, how cookies should be packaged and more people can look on Facebook for “Caring with Cookies”.