B.C. REALTOR® Boosts Children’s Spirits with School Supplies

When almost 100 backpacks were stolen from a program that provides highly anticipated school supplies to financially insecure families and their children, Corwin Kwan, a REALTOR® and salesperson in Burnaby, B.C. acted to right a terrible wrong.

“I felt heartbroken for these kids who were depending on getting school supplies that their families just couldn’t afford,” says Kwan from Sutton Centre Realty, who saw the news about the theft and quickly decided that he wanted to help.

The Salvation Army branch in Kamloops, where the 96 backpacks were stolen from, is an almost 350-km drive from Kwan’s home.

Regardless, he got in his car and made the trip in late August with his wife, Yvonne, to meet with Salvation Army officials and present them with much-needed school supplies. Kwan had 25 new backpacks that he had on hand from helping a different charity program, along with a welcome assortment of pencils, lunchboxes, and other items such as rulers and toothbrushes that the children sorely needed.

At the time, summer forest fires were raging in B.C. and Kwan was initially hesitant about driving because he didn’t want to disrupt any of the work that was being done to manage them. However, he investigated and determined it was safe to make the trip.

“Everything that (Kwan) brought to us was beautiful, the kids just loved it, and these were things that their parents could not afford,” says Susanne Gore-Flukinger, the Salvation Army Kamloops resource centre co-ordinator. “We were overwhelmed with appreciation.”

To see what more could be done for these children, Kwan reached out to Phil Moore, REALTOR® and salesperson with RE/MAX Crest Realty, to rally support from B.C. REALTORS®.

“In 2021, when B.C. was hit by unprecedented flooding, the response from the REALTOR® community was nothing short of extraordinary, contributing over 30 tons of essential supplies to those in need,” said Moore. “When Corwin approached me, it was only natural that I turn to social media once again. Given the remarkable outpouring of support I’d seen previously, I had confidence in the innate compassion and generosity of our REALTOR® community.”

As word spread, other B.C. REALTORS® pitched in to help and donated a total of $3,080 towards gift cards that the families could use to buy indoor and outdoor shoes at Sportchek, which was offering an additional discount code to the families gifted with the cards. Given that the Salvation Army Kamloops branch was not covered by insurance for the theft, every little bit helped.

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Because of mounting financial hardships and the economy, there were more requests from families for aid in 2023 compared to the year before including families from Ukraine and other countries on refugee status. After help from the community, Gore-Flukinger says the Salvation Army was able to deliver school supplies to 200 children.

“It’s amazing how Corwin and other people came through for us, especially given that he is not even from our Kamloops community, but he is from the REALTOR® community,” says Gore-Flukinger. “It meant so much to us.”

Kwan is well known in BC for his community and charity work with organizations such as St. John’s Ambulance along with donating backpacks to programs associated with the BC Association of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

“As REALTORS® we always try and be there for the community to show our support in different ways,” says Kwan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your local community or far away, we will take action and have the right intention to just get it done.”

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