Support Vulnerable Youth in YYC by Filling Backpacks with Essential Items

We want to bring our community of Allies together to donate 100 backpacks filled with urgently needed basic items for at-risk and sexually exploited youth in Calgary and the surrounding area. Supporting high risk youth is a key area of focus for #NotInMyCity, with 25% of reported human trafficking victims in Canada are under the age of 18.

#NotInMyCity has gathered government systems and community organizations together – including the Calgary Police Service, Children’s Services, Alberta Health Services, Hull Services, McMan and Trellis (Avenue 15 youth shelter) – to provide a single, wraparound response model for at-risk and sexually exploited youth aged 12-24. These youth make up a portion of the 300 youth experiencing homelessness on any given night in Calgary who are highly vulnerable to violence, sexual exploitation, illicit drugs, criminal behaviour, and compromised mental health.



COVID-19 has increased the risk for these youth

  • Mandated restrictions have disproportionately affected already vulnerable families. A shrinking social safety net, closures of alternative safe housing, increased financial pressures, and families struggling with violence and interpersonal dysfunction are putting youth at risk of abuse, running away, and exploitation.
  • Shutdowns associated with the pandemic have constrained the capacity and ability to deliver the comprehensive, integrated care and range of services that survivors need. Moreover, stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders have increased social isolation, which has adversely affected access to supports that are critical for recovery.
  • The identification and tracking of exploited youth has become more challenging. The closure of schools, businesses, drop-in programs, shelter supports, and other face-to-face services have reduced opportunities for teachers, service providers, police and others to identify or check in with at-risk or exploited youth.
  • Substance use has increased and there has been a significant number of at-risk and exploited youth overdosing on fentanyl and other drugs.
  • Exploitive activity has moved into private residences, trap houses, vehicles, and other locations where youth cannot be easily found. As a result of this challenge, a significant number of youth have not had any contact with family or service providers in several months and many have been reported as missing.
  • The lack of outreach supports has hindered the ability for service providers to go out and look for missing youth or meet them in a community setting when they reach out for help.
  • Children and youth are spending more time online, which has led to an increase in online exploitation and luring.


How you can help

To mitigate these effects, the provision of basic needs is a simple gesture that can help frontline workers engage and build relationships with at-risk and exploited youth. By giving an at-risk or exploited youth an easily-accessible resource, they receive immediate emergency items to help keep them as physically, emotionally and mentally as safe as possible while attempts are made to connect them with longer-term wraparound supports.

Ultimately, we hope this small intervention will contribute to enhanced well-being and a reduction in issues like long-term homelessness, sexual exploitation, substance abuse, interaction with the justice system and social exclusion.



What items should be included in the backpacks

Please include items that are new and unused, and gender neutral where possible.

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Brush/comb
  • Make up remover/face wash
  • Candy
  • Gift cards for food (McDonalds, Tim Hortons)
  • Transit tickets
  • Hygiene products (pads, tampons)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gloves/socks
  • Hair ties
  • Condoms


Organizing a drop-off

Please send #NotInMyCity an email at and let us know how many backpacks you’ll be donating. Our team will mail you a yellow rose pin and a postcard with important info to include with each backpack.

Backpacks can be dropped off 24/7 at:

Avenue 15 youth shelter (938 15 ave SW)


26 New Brighton Green SE (you’ll find a drop-off bin on the porch)


Tag @NIMCally in your donation drop-off photos, and help us get the word out so we can reach our goal of 100 backpacks!