More than $10,000 in new winter clothing was donated by the Prince Rupert Lions Club and delivered to the homelessness shelter in three pickup truck loads, on Nov. 29.
“We’re getting to be cold and there’s a need for it,” Jim Martin, Prince Rupert Lions Club member who organized the donation, said. “We purchased coats and different clothing: coats, boots, rain gear, socks [and] all kinds of stuff that’s needed for homeless people.”
The effort was funded by the federal government’s program Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy operated by the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society (PRACSS).
This is the first time this program has been run in Prince Rupert, Miranda Kessler, PRACSS Reaching Home, Indigenous homelessness coordinator, said, adding this is an important first step in their services going into the winter season.
“It’s a great impact. There are people who aren’t able to use the shelter, that are perhaps housing outside, so having rain gear and warmer clothing helps them get through the colder nights, especially now that we are full-on into rain season,” Kessler said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the homelessness rate has increased in Prince Rupert due to housing loss and higher rental costs, Kessler said.
The donations come as Prince Rupert has seen freezing temperatures and light snowfall at night, and inclement stormy weather during the day.
“It’s nice that we do get donations of second-hand clothing, but it really is a boost in confidence that you are getting something brand new … that you can call our own,” Kessler said.
Kessler hopes the inaugural program’s success speaks for itself and it will become an annually-funded public service.
Grainne Barthe, program director with the North Coast Transition Society, who manage the homelessness shelter, said the gesture is huge.
“Something so simple as a winter coat for you and me might not be not a second thought, but for when people have nothing — it’s everything,” she said.
Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View