A Nanaimo volunteer youth group is hoping to help those experiencing homelessness and will be accepting donations of warm winter clothing this weekend.
On Friday, Dec. 6 and Sunday, Dec. 8, volunteers with the Nanaimo’s Youth 20/20 Can group will be hosting Coats for Christmas at Maffeo Sutton Park’s Lions Pavilion, where they will be collecting new or gently used coats, gloves and hats.
Friday’s Coats for Christmas event will take place between 4-8 p.m. while Sunday’s event will be held from 12-4 p.m. Volunteers will be serving hot chocolate and Christmas cookies to those who attend.
Gwen Vonarx, Youth 20/20 Can Nanaimo engagement worker, said with the cold weather and a significant homeless population in the city, there is a need for warm winter clothing.
“We are inviting members of the community to donate coats and hats and socks for members of our community who are homeless…” she said. “We have so many homeless people in our community.”
Clothing items received at Coats for Christmas will be donated to First Unitarian Fellowship and the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy, who will distribute them to homeless individuals in the community. First Unitarian Fellowship operates a shelter on Townsite Road while the Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy operates a shelter on Machleary Street.
“We don’t really have a goal for how many coats we receive but I do know that there are about 600 homeless people in Nanaimo and so we just want to be able to get as many coats and hats and gloves and socks as possible,” Vonarx said. “We need coats for youth. I would say the adults and the youth are probably the ones the most that we need.”
Youth 20/20 Can is a federally funded year-long program made up of volunteers between the ages of 15-30. There are approximately 28 volunteers in the Nanaimo Youth 20/20 Can group. Vonarx said the Nanaimo group recognized that there is a need to help the homeless in the community and decided that a clothing drive would be an effective way to help.
“We thought we could give back to the community and do this project,” she said.
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