Shelters seek donations to help homeless ward off winter’s chill

Homeless shelters in Calgary are currently taking donations of winter clothing to give to those living on the streets.

“Our main push right now is our Frosty Bite Kits,” said Shanika Abeysinghe, the communications specialist at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society.

Frosty Bite Kits are created from donations that include mittens, toques, wool socks, scarves, pocket warmers, lip balm, and hand cream “to prevent frostbite,” Abeysinghe said in an interview.

“We are always taking donations,” she said.

The drop-in centre is currently seeking winter coat donations but is receiving help from several community partners including the Baby It’s Cold Outside Charity, which has a clothing drive with partners all over Alberta.

Abeysinghe said they also need donations for Fill-A-Sock, where clients receive a sock filled with items such as lip balm, hand lotion, travel mugs, hand warmers, deodorant, underwear, razors, transit tickets, and candy.

“Fill-A-Sock is tied to the holidays. Clients receive a sock on Christmas morning,” she said.

There are many ways the public can volunteer in the winter and one should “check out the website,” Abeysinghe said.

“We do open our doors to anyone who needs shelter and collaborate with other organizations to find people places to stay.”

Inn from the Cold’s communications specialist, Kara Layher, said when comparing the summer months to winter, the shelter has had to open up its overflow shelter at Knox United Church almost 20 times.

“We have put out the call for warm clothing, particularly for children, along with diapers and other baby supplies, and cash donations,” Layher said.

When cash donations are made, the donor can specify where to direct the funds under five different categories, which include area of greatest need, operations, meal sponsorship, journey house, and other.

Layher said Inn from the Cold provides homeless people with donated “necessary winter items,” which include boy’s and girl’s winter snowsuits, coats, snow pants, men’s and women’s winter coats, and sweaters of all sizes.

“We are only able to accept new items due to health and safety policies,” the shelter’s website said on the donation page.

Layher said Inn from the Cold offers basic shelter as well as health and wellness services to all of its clients.

We offer shelter, sanctuary and healing to families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in Calgary. -Kara Layher

During the winter months, Layher said there are many ways for the public to volunteer including meal services and administration assistance.

She said one can find out more about volunteering at Inn from the Cold on its website.

About Shawna Martens 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Shawna Martens worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.