A few years ago, I was invited to help out at the SPCA Thrift Shop’s Annual Coat Drive. I bundled up in my warmest clothes, and met the familiar faces of Roni and Colleen from the thrift shop, along with a few other helpers, on a freezing night in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. I helped to hand out 600 plus jackets to some of the neediest people, sang along with some of the cheesiest Christmas carols, and said “Merry Christmas” to more strangers than I could count.
It was one of the most eye opening and rewarding things I’ve ever done and so the following year I signed up again, and brought a friend. Both years, it was a weird night – filled with apprehension, and a little bit of fear, and completely overshadowed by small victories I will carry near to my heart. I did some things out of my comfort zone. I helped a transgendered prostitute find the warmest and most stylish coat. I was humbled more than once when various homeless people showed pride in a free coat and didn’t want to take more than “their fair share”. I watched one stranger hand another stranger a pair of gloves because “he needed them more” when they so obviously both needed them. My heart was filled with a rekindled faith in people those two nights.
This year I want to sign up again. I need to feel that same stirring of human kindness, and so I popped by the SPCA Thrift Shop again to talk to the women who run the shop. This year’s drive takes place, as always, December 10th. The shop needs help to make this coat drive happen – in the form of donated jackets, help organizing the jackets onto hangers and racks in the week preceding the night of December 10th, and help handing out the jackets to the residents of the Downtown Eastside.
If you’re interested in helping, whether it’s down at Main and Hastings on December 10th, or perhaps collecting up warm, gently used jackets around your office or neighbourhood and dropping them off at the SPCA Thrift Shop at 615 12th Street, give Colleen or Roni a call at 604-540-7722 to make arrangements and for more information.