Every time Cierra Foster steps outside into the cold and shivers, she can’t help but think of the same person.
“(When) I’m wearing all these layers, but I’m still cold, I go back and I think about my dad,” the 18-year-old Brookswood resident told the Times.
Foster’s dad, a man she has gone most of her life without seeing, is homeless.
Although she didn’t want to announce it publicly at first, her father is a large inspiration behind her campaign Reason for the Season: Give to the Homeless — an event she is expanding from the Downtown Eastside to Langley on Dec. 31.
This is the second year she is organizing Reason for the Season, which provides food, clothing and toiletries to those living on the streets.
“I was just sitting at home and I wanted to take on a project. And it wasn’t a school project or anything, it was just something I started on my own,” Foster said.
“And I got the idea to give to the homeless … because my dad was actually homeless. He’s been homeless all my life, and last year, I didn’t tell anyone that’s why I did it — I kept that to myself.
“But being able to actually have a connection with someone going through something like that. Every time you go outside in the cold, you’re thinking about that person … it gives me more of a connection to how homeless people are feeling.”
Foster began the event in Vancouver last year, but after seeing the homeless camp set up on 208 Street and Fraser Highway in Langley over the summer, she felt that a second event in her hometown was needed.
For those wanting to help, a local donations drop off will take place on Monday, Dec.19 (previously scheduled for Dec. 12) at the George Preston Recreation Centre in the east parking lot. Volunteers will be set up with trucks to fill from 1 to 4 p.m.
They are looking for donations of grocery store gift cards, food items, pet food, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, clothing (including jackets, shoes, toques, gloves, socks and unused undergarments) and blankets.
The group will set up a booth to hand out the donations received from the public, along with hot beverages and food at the Dec. 31 event.
They will also be handing out donations on East Hastings Street in Vancouver tomorrow evening, Dec. 17.
“There’s moments where I’m stressed out and I’m like ‘ah’, but then, you get all the feedback … (The homeless) would come up to me, and they would thank me, and it just feels so good.”