A Langley charity that reaches out to the homeless, working poor, and low income seniors is asking for help yet again to fill their ambulance with useful items.
Kimz Angels, founded almost 20 years ago by Langley’s Kim Snow, will be holding two Fill The Ambulance days at local grocery stores this December.
They’re asking for donations of food, clothing, and personal items that can be distributed directly to Langley’s homeless or to the needy through the free store operated with the Friends Langley Vineyard church.
This will be the first Fill The Ambulance event at which Kimz Angels has its very own ambulance – one decorated in pink and black, donated to help out with the group’s outreach efforts.
Snow, whose group won the Community Impact Award at this year’s Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence night, noted that the organization has been getting bigger and doing more over the last few years.
“It’s not a good thing that we’re growing,” said Snow.”But it’s a good thing that we’re able to keep up with demand.”
Vince Ford, a retired paramedic who has been aiding Kimz Angels for years, is one of those who spends a lot of time distributing items collected from donors to the homeless.
Every Sunday, Ford and an emergency room nurse try to make the rounds of local homeless camps.
“We carry clothes, food, hygiene products,” he said. “Anything you need to live a somewhat normal life.”
They head into the bush and give out sandwiches, granola bars, and pop-top cans of stew.
“Theyr’e all very polite, they’re all very grateful,” Ford said of the homeless people he encounters.
In addition, Ford and the nurse do health checks. They’ve taken one man to hospital because he was suffering from pneumonia, and revived another man with Narcan because he had suffered a heroin overdose and could have stopped breathing.
One of the reasons the group needs so many clothes is that staying dry and warm at this time of year is incredibly difficult for the homeless, Ford and Snow noted.
“They can’t dry their clothes, as you or I would throw our clothing in the dryer,” Snow noted.
That means once a blanket or warm pair of socks gets wet, it’s often simply abandoned. If it rains for a week and the item’s owner has nowhere permanent to stay, there’s not even a chance of getting anything dry.
That leads to the constant presence of discarded cloth items around homeless camps, and the need for a steady supply of new ones.
Snow said she would love to create a drop in centre that would allow the local homeless people to shower, get warm, and use a washer and dryer.
But for now, the volunteers are trying to keep people as dry as possible.
When it comes to clothing, different sizes of drawstring sweat pants and hoodies are helpful, as are rain ponchos.
“Keeps them dry, they don’t get sick,” said Ford.
Blankets, socks, and other warm clothes are also accepted.
If bringing used clothes, Snow asks that they be gently used – something you would still wear yourself, not clothing that is so worn out it needs to be thrown out.
The first Fill the Ambulance will be held this weekend, Dec. 7 and 8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Otter Co-op.
The second day will be at the IGA in Murrayville from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 15.