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Winnipeg Sikh community prepares Valentine’s care packages for women’s shelters

Saturday afternoon at Valley Gardens Community Centre, a group of volunteers with the World Sikh Organization put together special care packages for Valentine’s Day. The gifts won’t be going to their partners or families, but to women in shelters.

“There’s no restriction to who you share that love with for Valentine’s Day,” says Mahekleen Kaur, regional president of the WSO in Manitoba. “So, the idea is, why not spread it to everybody?”

The packages contain essentials like toothpaste, pads and tampons, plus things like soap, body wash or face masks, which they hope can brighten the recipient’s day.

Kaur says the organization does this every year as part of their One Billion Rising initiative. Originating in Vancouver in 2012, the campaign has now spread to multiple cities across Canada.

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“One in three women will face some form of abuse in their lifetime, which will equal to one billion women, which is just such a heart wrenching statistic,” says Kaur. “So. to raise awareness for that statistic, we’re doing our part as the Sikh community.”

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Volunteer Sheena Gurm collected donations from the Amber Trails Community School, where she teaches kindergarten. She says participating in initiatives like this is important to the Sikh community.

“In our culture, we are always taught about the spirit of generosity, so giving back to the community, giving back to those who need it,” says Gurm.

Her students also contributed by making cards to go into the packages, featuring messages of hope and encouragement.

The children at Little Wonders Daycare helped too, according to director Aman Sidhu.

“We talk about how they’re helping somebody’s mommy, or they’re helping somebody like them, because some of these will be going to mothers with children,” says Sidhu. “So, they’re just very happy that they get to give back in that way.”

The group is on track to send around 225 care packages to shelters this year, which would be a record amount. But above all, volunteers want the women to know that someone is thinking of them.

“Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to just be about having a partner in your life,” says Kaur. “It can also just be about knowing there’s someone who wants you to know that you’re loved, that you deserve to be treated with love and respect.”

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