An Abbotsford woman has organized an ongoing warm-clothing drive to help provide items for those who are homeless.
Bobbi Spark said she came up with the idea because she wanted to so something to help the community while unable to volunteer during the pandemic.
“I was heartbroken to think of women living in tents during winter, out in the cold and wet without warm clothes. It came to me then – I could organize a winter/rainwear clothing drive for folks without a home or address,” she said.
She started the drive by cleaning out her own closets and then by asking for donations over social media and by emailing friends.
Spark also called Value Village and connected through a socially distanced appointed with store manager Bonnie, who provided five big boxes of items. Spark said this included between 40 and 50 winter coats.
A friend she approached had no clothing to donate but gave Spark $100 to buy scarves and hats at Value Village to go with the coats.
Another friend and his wife brought over new socks, toques and gloves, while another individual donated men’s and women’s boots as well as bags of sweaters, jackets and other warm gear.
Spark said another 10 or so people contributed donations large and small., but one woman donated what amounted to many, many hours of work.
The woman, Mary Revell, had read Spark’s Facebook post and ended up delivering several hand-knitted items – 88 women’s and men’s hats/toques of various design and colours, 56 pairs of mittens in a range of sizes (each pair tied neatly together with a white yarn bow so they didn’t get mixed up) and three scarves.
“She was modest and very happy to make the donation,” Spark said.
She said it took awhile to figure out how to distribute all the items, but she connected with Amanda Staller, who works for the peer group Drug War Survivors, which is under the umbrella of local charity Impact Society.
Staller takes the donated items to homeless camps around the community and distributes them to whoever needs them.
Spark said she now hopes to expand the assistance to the homeless by providing basic hygiene and personal sanitary items (especially for women), by advocating for public bathrooms in the downtown, and by supporting a variety of solutions to homelessness.
She said the work being done by others in the community to address overdoses, frostbite, street violence and despair is gut-wrenching.
“My warm-clothing drive addresses much less desperate issues, yet it may bring comfort and warmth to some in certain situations. It’s the best I can do for now,” Spark said.
Anyone who has items to donate can call Amanda at 778-238-3442 or Bobbi at firstname.lastname@example.org.