A group of girls from Songhees Nation piled in a bus and headed to Centennial Square Wednesday night to offer food and gift bags to those in need.

The girls, ages nine to 13, had been given a $500 honorarium after volunteering at a festival in Centennial Square in September.

Their co-leaders asked them how they would like to spend it.

“I thought maybe they’d want to have a party or something for themselves cause they worked really hard that day,” said Debra Lazzar.

Instead they wanted to make a meal for people in need, and hand out gift bags full of socks, gloves, shampoo, and a few holiday treats.

“We all came up with the soup and sandwich and we thought we would do it at Christmas and stuff for anybody who’s hungry,” said group member Ava George.

Joy Charleson runs the group along with Lazzar, both work for the Health Department at the Songhees Nation.

“I’m sure that some of their families may have struggles as well,” said Charleson of the girls in her group.

“For them to think about other people who are less fortunate, I think is a really strong quality in each and everyone of the young girls.”

“It makes us feel good that we came up with this idea to make other people happy before Christmas,” said group member Lylyan Modeste-Prevost.

Those who help people on the streets every day say the girls’ gift reaches far beyond the items they were handing out.

“When someone comes along with a kind compassionate gesture it can make all the difference somebody and to make them feel they’re worthy and accepted,” said Our Place Executive Director Don Evans.

Evans says if anyone is inspired to give to those in needs Our Place is in desperate need of blankets and sleeping bags since shelters are full and people are forced to sleep outside in the frigid weather.

April Lawrence