The final shipment of outdoor gear and clothing was piled high in the small residential garage.
The brand-new jackets, track pants, underwear, and footwear are destined for local service providers to outfit some of Chilliwack’s chronically homeless.
The Winter Clothing Project was delivered by United Way, in partnership with the City of Chilliwack administering funds from Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.
“It’s just been a really positive project,” says program coordinator Margaret Reid.
Her team worked with community partners Cheam First Nation, Skwah First Nation, PCRS, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, Chilliwack Salvation Army, and Chilliwack Cyrus Centre.
By working with local clothing supplier Mark’s and working out good deals early on, they were able to realize economies of scale, and buy more gear.
“We ordered what they needed instead of getting in just whatever.”
It was important because having proper footwear can mean getting sick, or not, especially when it’s wet out.
“Because they will get sick, and then it’s a medical bill. Then it’s going to exacerbate things. So this is something that will help the long-term health outcomes of our community.”
This Reaching Home funding was specifically earmarked by the feds to help prevent homelessness.
One of the goals of the National Housing Strategy is to reduce chronic homelessness nationally by 50 per cent by 2027-28.
When folks are living rough, having a warm waterproof jacket, underwear, socks, and boots can make all the difference.
They even used foot-sizing equipment, in order to customize ordering with the correct fit.
A team member with lived experience went into a few of the homeless camps to help size clients, and then helped with distributing it.
“Everyone was so grateful.”
There was human dignity restored with this project, Reid underlined.
“If someone has reliable, properly fitting shoes, warm clothes and new clothes, they are more likely to take further steps to get themselves out of poverty, and off the streets.”
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