Thanksgiving Season at Our Place Society
We all know that October means the start of rainy and cold weather in Victoria. With a shortage of affordable and supportive housing in our city, our emergency shelters fill up quickly, which leaves many vulnerable people to fend for themselves on the streets. Here are a few of the ways Our Place Society, with the help of volunteers and community donations, helps people in need during the Thanksgiving season.
When you're homeless you don't have a closet to reach into for last year's warm coat. Our annual winter clothing drive collects hundreds of winter jackets, warm socks, gloves and toques for our inner city family living on the streets. We also distribute hundreds of blankets and sleeping bags to people who will be turned away again this year because of our region's limited supply of nightly shelters. Our Society operates two temporary shelters with mats for 108 people. During winter months, we turn away 10 to 15 people every night, most do not find shelter elsewhere.
Footcare - Nurses and Sock Drives
One of the challenges of homelessness is that constantly wet feet tend to blister, get infected, and can develop dangerous fungus and bacteria. Thanks to the UVic Nursing School students who volunteer up to 12 hours of weekly professional foot care these too common issues are being addressed. Schools across the Capital Region also hold sock-drives that provide thousands of warm, clean, dry socks for people who have no choice but to face the wet weather every night.
Homeless Action Week and Project Connect
The week after Thanksgiving, October 8th to 14th, is Homeless Action Week. Service providers from around the city come together to create a multi-agency driven event called Project Connect. Project Connect aims to showcase all of the available services in the Capital Region, from help with getting new ID, finding family members, accessing mental health and medical programs, referrals to addcitions treatment services, applying for income assistance, finding shelters, plus advocacy for obtaining permanent housing and legal aid support.
Starting in October, Our Place Society starts its Out of the Cold Campaign to raise funds to stay open until 9pm.This campaign raises $30,000 every month so that people living on the streets can stay indoors until the night shelters open. Without these crucial three additional hours, people who depend on shelters get left out in the rain with nowhere to go. That's just enough time to get soaked to the skin with no access to laundry facilities to dry clothes. Thanks to the generosity of our annual donors, Our Place Society continues to be a safe, warm place every hour that it is needed.
The Thanksgiving Lunch is a chance for the homeless and working poor to come together as a family. Mayors, counsellors and business leaders serve this special meal as a reminder to Victoria's inner city residents that the community cares. It is events like these, and the message of love, hope and belonging that sustains people through the hardships and connects them with Our Place, where they can get support 365 days of the year.