Shannon Blanthorne, 16, is starting Grade 12 at Cariboo Hill Secondary this fall.
No one would blame the teen for whiling away the last summer of her high school career on the beach, but she's decided to do more with her vacation.
This weekend she's holding a fundraiser for women struggling with homelessness and addiction.
Besides the obvious needs for food, shelter and detox, in the short term they simply want to feel healthy and clean and have some control over this aspect of their lives, Shannon said.
And she would know.
A recovering addict and alcoholic herself, Shannon will celebrate one year clean and sober on July 21.
After the emotional strain of several deaths in the family during her childhood, Shannon turned to drugs and alcohol, hiding her emotional turmoil from her parents for four years.
Once friends at school alerted counsellors to Shannon's declining health, her parents were informed, and they sent her to a detox program.
While she was never on the streets, she knows what it's like to experience the downward spiral of addiction.
"I was horrible at taking care of myself," she said. "The biggest thing [for] addicts or alcoholics is self-care. You do not take care of yourself. You don't really care about it. But if the opportunity is presented to take care of yourself, you will."
With this in mind, she came up this spring with the idea to buy backpacks and fill them with toiletries, to allow homeless women to have their own portable supply of hygiene and health items.
The deal is, as long as the women bring back their own bag, and don't sell it or give it away, they can come back to where they got it and get a refill of 30 supplies; items like granola bars, socks, a poncho, reusable water bottle, tampons, shaving cream and shampoo.
So far, Shannon has held one fundraiser with the help of her parents and grandparents, and a few friends from school, and has raised enough funds to buy and fill seven backpacks.
Once filled, each bag costs about $50.
Her school's youth action committee donated $150, and she is hoping to raise enough this summer to have 30 bags by September.
The long-term goal is to register her campaign as a non-profit organization, under her nickname, Shanpoo.
If they can raise enough funds to buy and fill 30 bags, Shannon and her friends intend to approach organizations that run homeless shelters, transition houses, and recovery centres to see if backpacks can be distributed from these places on an ongoing basis.
The plan is to start in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and later supply other communities in Metro Vancouver, including Burnaby.
Shannon's mom, Shari Blanthorne, said if the campaign doesn't get financial sponsorship, the backpacks Shannon and her friends have already bought and filled will be donated to women in the Downtown Eastside directly. "Everything that they've managed to fundraise so far, we'll make sure it hits the street and gets to the right people."
Shari says she is proud of her daughter's decision not only to get over her addictions, but to look for a way to help others who still face those demons.
"This daughter of mine is the most amazing child," she said. "I think that anyone that's battled through what she's battled through in her life, and wants to do this - you know, most teenagers are thinking about themselves; thinking about going out and hanging out with their friends. She's thinking about how to make someone else's life better. And I think that is huge."
This weekend's fundraiser for Shanpoo's will be on July 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the amenity hall at 166-7420 Mulberry Pl., a townhouse complex off of 16th Avenue.
The sale will include a mix of garage sale items and new, gift items donated by The Frame Shop in New Westminster. There will also be hotdogs and pop for sale. All proceeds from will go towards purchasing more backpacks and supplies. For more information about the fundraiser or the organization, contact email@example.com, or visit www.facebook.com/shanmpoos.