In 2000, Martha Hart created the Owen Hart Foundation to aid Calgarians struggling to support themselves.
Hart is the widow of the professional wrestler who died at the age of 34 in an accident during an on-air stunt at a WWE event in May 1999.
The Owen Hart Foundation (OHF) offers scholarships, provides housing, partners with organizations, and hosts a variety of events for the community.
One of the signature events each year is the Backpack Giveaway to help kids in need of items for the upcoming school year.
Helping kids in need
“We were shocked to find that there was such a need in our city [for backpacks] that it just exploded from there,” says Hart.
“We started our first year with giving away 150 backpacks, and this year we planned to give 725 away.”
Hart adds one of their community agencies requested extra backpacks, which brings this year’s number closer to 850.
“We could give away thousands and thousands of backpacks because there’s such a need financially for people, especially since the whole COVID pandemic,” she says.
More than a backpack giveaway
The Backpack Giveaway takes place Aug. 27, and includes balloons, stuffed animals, free coupons for restaurants, notebooks, and dental hygiene products. Families will be able to enjoy juice and popcorn as they join in on the fun.
“Everybody just kind of chips in and it’s kind of like stone soup, everybody comes together and the event is just this big explosion,” Hart says.
“We have a lot of people that are in need, and so we really want to be that organization that’s there to help people at that very grassroots level.”
Hoping to continue to grow both the OHF and the events it hosts, Hart says she is excited to see how this year’s Backpack Giveaway runs.
“I feel really fortunate that we get incredible support, but I would like to see it just continue to grow, and I would like to see it become a staple event in Calgary.”