WATERLOO -- Two Waterloo residents are filling hundreds of backpacks with essentials donated by community members.

The bags will be distributed to shelters across the region to help spread cheer to those in need.

"To give those in our community who are less fortunate, items to help them get through COVID and the winter season," co-organizer Eve Smerchinksi said.

The bags include winter gear and hygiene products.

"It was not a good year but this is a time where everybody needs help," co-organizer Josh Perovic said.

Perovic said he knows what it's like to need help. He used the services at OneROOF Youth Services when he was a teenager.

"They had clothes for us, meals for us, bus tickets, foosball table, laundry machines for us to use," he said.

OneROOF provides support for people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of experiencing homelessness between the ages of 12 and 25. It's one of the locations receiving backpacks from the pair.

"They're alone and they're youth, they're young," fund developer Bonnie Kropf said.

Kropf said the donation means a lot to those in need.

"They matter and they're worthy and they are accepted and valued," she said.

So far, they have 150 full bags. They have a goal of packing 300 and are still hoping for more donations.

"It's as much or as little as you can give and you just bring it in," Perovic said.

Donations can be made at Hemlock Street Burger Bar in Waterloo. They hope to have backpacks handed out by Christmas Eve.