Pre-teen brought Christmas cheer to the homeless

Tipper family makes Christmas lunches for the homeless

The Tipper family work an assembly line to build sandwiches to give to the homeless.

Beyond texting, playing video games and Facebook chatting, it seems unlikely a sixth grader would care about the greater world around them.

But that myth is dispelled with 11-year-old Emily Tipper, daughter of a military member, and one of the city’s youngest humanitarians.

For the second year in a row she has rallied friends and family to feed the homeless over the holidays.

On Dec. 23, 2013, she hand delivered 300 homemade lunches to those in need of a full belly.

She achieved this feat by collecting and recycling pop bottles and soliciting donations from Thrifty Foods and Country Grocer.

It all started with one conversation that left an indelible mark.

“I remember asking a man laying on someone’s door step what he has to eat on Christmas and he told me the homeless don’t have enough money to buy food for Christmas, and that they try to see what they can get at shelters,” Tipper said. “This made me really sad and I wanted to help.”

She secured 150 lunches in her first year, and doubled that number last Christmas.

Each bag contained one sandwich, two cookies, two oranges, a bottle of water, some candy canes and a book.

With a car brimming with paper bags, she started her endeavor in Sooke and made her way through Colwood, Langford, Esquimalt and downtown Victoria. With the help of family and friends each bagged lunch was distributed directly to someone in need.

“I even got to know some of the homeless people. At first I was a little scared but once I started talking with them I realized they were just like you and I, just not as fortunate.”

Left over lunch bags were delivered to homeless shelters.

Plans for next Christmas are already underway. She plans to include more food and would like to raise enough money to include a pair of socks in every package.

“I will wrap the socks in Christmas paper so even the homeless can have a gift to open.”

Charity is part of her family philosophy. As a group they have taken part or fundraised for Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the list goes on from there.

“As a father I’m very proud of Emily,” says MS Mark Tipper, Emily’s dad. “You see all the negative things kids can get involved in. It’s seldom you hear about the positive. A lot of kids do amazing things, but we just don’t hear about it. Emily raised close to $1,000 when she shaved her head for Cops for Cancer, and now she is finding other ways to help the unfortunate through her bagged lunch program. She is an amazing kid.”

Please contact Master Seaman Mark Tipper at 250-363-4374 if you are interested in donating bottles.

-Kara Tibbel, Staff Writer

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