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Burnaby teenager creates donation drive-thru for at-risk youth

Donations of clothes and food can be made at a socially distanced drive through to be hosted this Sunday
Drive through donations
Mehreen (Mimi) Devji, Reeshma Devji and Ahmad Devji at their posts during last year's donation drive-through in support of the Covenant House Vancouver.

A teenager from Burnaby is hosting a drive-thru fundraiser to support homeless and at-risk street youth.

For the Devji household, charity is a family affair. Every Sunday the family works together to create 150 sandwiches and collect other donations of cash or food from residents of their Montecito neighbourhood. The food and other donations are then given to a local church to be delivered to people living without a home in the Downtown Eastside. It is this initiative that inspired 17-year-old Ahmad Devji to create Project Purpose, a fundraising campaign to directly benefit youth living at the Covenant House Vancouver.

The Covenant House helps young people aged 16 to 24 who have fled physical, emotional and sexual abuse; those who have been forced from their homes; and those who have aged out of foster care.

Changing situations for Vancouver youth

Devji created the fundraiser last year and it turned out to be a resounding success, raising some $3,000 worth of food and clothing donations. Devji is looking to repeat that performance this year with a socially distanced donation drive-through. 

As for why Devji created the project, he says being cooped up inside due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic gave him time to reflect on his situation. 

“Just understanding that I have a roof over my head I have very supportive parents, a good environment, a good community around me and I'm still having a tough time,” Devji said. 

During this reflection, he thought especially of the youth supported by the Covenant House.

"The reason why I wanted to focus on youth is because I don't like the fact that people's opportunities can be changed so much just because of their situations at home or their financial situation," he said.

Fulfilling a responsibility

As for the philanthropic nature of the project, Devji says more than contentment in his work, he feels like he is part of something bigger.

"It's not about giving back but more doing my duty to the community in fulfilling that responsibility. I feel there's always more that people can do, always more that I can do,” he said.

In the future, Devji says he wants to expand his charitable prowess to a national and even, someday, a global level.

The drive-through takes place Sunday, March 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 2965 Southcrest Dr., Burnaby.

Here are some of the top needed items you can donate:

  • Dry dairy products
  • Canned foods
  • Medical grade masks
  • Rain and winter gear (coats, rain ponchos, boots, gloves)
  • Men’s boxer briefs and women’s underwear
  • Umbrellas 
  • Toothbrushes and mini toothpaste
  • Gift cards for places like Tim Hortons, McDonald's

If you are unable to make the drive-through, cash donations can always be made on Project Purpose’s fundraising page.