What started as a compassionate gesture of simple warmth to those living on the streets in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is now the largest, longest-running charitable blanket and warm clothing collection in the region.
This year, the 17th annual blanket drive organized by Lower Mainland realtors, will run from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5 across the region. Thousands of realtors and members of the public will donate, and hundreds of real estate offices will act as drop-off depots.
Since 1995, the drive has helped more than 165,000 people by giving them clothing or a blanket from the annual drive.
In Surrey, one of the key blanket drive recipients is NightShift Street Ministries, an organization that has been working with poor and homeless people in Whalley since 2004. Nightshift offers outreach services and counselling, and manages clothing and blanket donations through Sisters Thrift Boutique.
The blanket drive “is truly a blessing to our street family,” said Nightshift founder and president, MaryAnne Connor.
“We have had years when the donations from this drive have stocked our shelves and bins until early spring. We now see it as an essential partner in helping our community and we sincerely appreciate every single donation,” she said.
The eight-day campaign, which runs in every community from Whistler to Chilliwack, collects on average 4,300 bags of gently used blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothing and coats. In addition, many people donate new socks and underwear for men, women and children.
Donations stay in the communities in which they are made.
For a list of drop-off locations and charitable recipients, go to: www.blanketdrive.ca or www.facebook.com/blanketdrive, or www.twitter.com/FVREB or www.twitter.com/REBGV (#RCBD).