Brooklyns Blankets begins
By Sarah Fox | Photography by Kathleen Lane-Smith
1/20
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Brooklyns Blankets begins
When Angie had her first child, Brooklyn, the importance of service came into focus. Looking ahead, she envisioned giving back as a family creating meaningful change in her community and positively impacting her daughter’s future. Six years later, her daughter is leading a family initiative to support homeless people in their Toronto neighbourhood. This is the story of Brooklyns Blankets, as told by Angie.
A better you
2/20
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A better you
When you have a kid, your perspective changes; It goes from this passive, “I’m going to do the best that I can” to “I’m actually going to proactively do something more.”
Growing up in the city
3/20
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Growing up in the city
We’re city dwellers, so we’re always downtown. Since [Brooklyn] was two, she’d walk by somebody who was sleeping on the street and say, “Mommy, where’s their blanket?” Explaining the issue of homelessness to a two-year-old is complex; [my response] was more, “How does that make you feel?”
First steps
4/20
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First steps
[When Brooklyn was four], we tackled the issue. I said to her, “You have to create a plan.” [First,] I had to tell her what a plan was… teach her about to-do lists, objectives and [how] to set goals for yourself and manage your expectations.
Know your subject
5/20
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Know your subject
These are all her words after doing research; these are the areas where she can be part of the solution.
In the moment
6/20
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In the moment
Every single interaction, conversation or moment that we have together, you can always tie it back to humility, gratitude and thinking outside yourself.
Active parenting
7/20
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Active parenting
Ultimately, what parents want is just to raise empathetic children—kids that are kind, kids that are contributors to society and not passive bystanders. They want to raise nice children; it’s that simple.
Warming up
8/20
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Warming up
We called [our initiative] Brooklyns Blankets because it all started with blankets. [Keeping] people warm [is] the main thing because of the urgency behind it. [We’re] trying to give Brooklyn the sense that it’s not just adults, there are actually a lot of kids on the street.
You got mail
9/20
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You got mail
We started sending emails to corporations and started an online fundraising page. We set our goal for 50 sleeping bags and thought there was no way we were going to get 50. We got 54.
Extended community
10/20
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Extended community
When we did the sleeping bag drive, I had so many moms reach out to me and say, “This is amazing, I wish my kid was doing something like this.” It really stuck in my head that the next thing we do has to involve other families.
Big inspiration
11/20
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Big inspiration
It started off with a small idea [that] sparked into something much bigger. Clothes is where we’re at now, and we’ve recruited 10 families. They signed up within 24 hours.
Better together
12/20
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Better together
In my experience, there are not a lot of programs out there to support families wanting to give back. I know that from my friends coming to me and asking, “Can you involve us? We want to do something together.” They just don’t know where to begin.
Easy does it
13/20
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Easy does it
I wanted to make it easy because families are so busy. We took a page out of "The World Needs Your Kid," and the power of WE became really clear. Make it realistic, keep it simple and set goals.
Tools for change
14/20
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Tools for change
I put together a resource guide to show [parents] how to speak to their kids about the issue, how you goal track, how you create an action plan—no pressure, just a guideline. I wasn’t sure how well it would be received, but people are really appreciative.
Family chatter
15/20
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Family chatter
We have our first [clothing] pick up this week. The best part is hearing stories from the other families involved and just how proud they are that they’re doing this. Their kids [are] learning about these issues and talking about them when I see them.
Passing down purpose
16/20
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Passing down purpose
I think there’s always been this sense of [wanting] everything [I do] to have a greater purpose. I’m not an activist; I have always just wanted to be educated on what’s going on in the world. I knew when Brooklyn was an infant, we were going to do cool things as a family. The impression I can make [are in] those teachable moments… [in] me wanting to create a world my kids are going to inherit.
Nurturing joy
17/20
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Nurturing joy
Because it’s a part of my life to coordinate, organize and run events, if I’m not running [Brooklyns Blankets], I’m going to be running a dinner party. Any opportunities to celebrate, that’s the best way to do it—that’s how [kids] can get involved. It makes it more tangible and exciting.
The more you know
18/20
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The more you know
For people that are [addressing] challenges in this world—homelessness being one of them—be knowledgeable. [Ask:] What are the triggers and causes? And, how you can be part of the solution. Brooklyn would go up and have conversations. She’d say, “Hi, I’m Brooklyn” and have conversations without fear.
Inner wisdom
19/20
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Inner wisdom
I want her to have a worldview so much bigger than mine was. There was no easy way, no [resources] within my community that I was able to tap into; I didn’t have all these opportunities to exercise what was clearly innate inside me. I wasn’t surrounded by activism, but I still had the inclination to give.
Little leader
20/20
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Little leader
Next year, we’ll probably move onto food. The thing is, I want her to want to do it. It needs to be driven by her. because if it’s driven by me or [my husband] Donavan, the kids are just going to follow along. My advice to any parent is to follow your kids’ lead.
Slideshow above | Choose slide
Brooklyns Blankets begins
A better you
Growing up in the city
First steps
Know your subject
In the moment
Active parenting
Warming up
You got mail
Extended community
Big inspiration
Better together
Easy does it
Tools for change
Family chatter
Passing down purpose
Nurturing joy
The more you know
Inner wisdom
Little leader