Board warms up to the task of running Cover with Kindness

Real estate board on board with taking over operation of Cover with Kindness

It didn’t take long for the South Okanagan Real Estate Board (SOREB) to warm up to the idea of organizing the annual Christmas Cover with Kindness program.

The board joined with notary Greg Litwin’s office to help with the campaign Litwin started eight years ago to provide warm clothes, blankets and other items for the less fortunate.

Next year, the board will take over the operation and expand the program to neighbouring communities

“We, as realtors, care about our communities and we care about the people who are in need and we want to make sure they’re warm this Christmas,” said board president Pamela Hanson.

Collections this year will take place in realty offices outside Penticton and donations will go to the needy in each region.

For Litwin himself, who started the campaign after a trip to Vancouver where he saw firsthand the squalid living conditions on the downtown east side, growth is paramount.

“I’ve been thinking about this for the past year, what I’ve always dreamed about, I mean it’s a great blanket drive and it helps a lot of people in Penticton but wouldn’t it be even better if you could expand that to other towns and communities,” said Litwin.

Having worked in the past with local realtors he decided to reach out to SOREB where he was welcomed with open arms.

Clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, boots and hats can be picked up at St. Saviour’s Church hall Dec. 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Items donated to Cover with Kindness also find their way to many other help organizations.

“Earlier this year I read an article about women in need trading their bodies for a warm winter coat and as soon as I read that article I contacted Debbie (Scarborough) of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society and told her I have some coats leftover from last year and you’re welcome to have them,” said Litwin, who is a member of a homeless steering committee and Soupateria volunteer.

Drop off locations include RE/MAX Penticton, Summerland and Osoyoos, Royal Lepage in Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos, and Century 21 in Penticton and Oliver.

Hours for drop off at all locations are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Penticton Century 21 which is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Each year at St. Saviour’s hall, next door to the Soupateria, hundreds of people are helped.

According to Litwin, the many “warm hearted and good spirited” volunteers who help come from a variety of local organizations and businesses.

“I think before you judge somebody you need to walk a mile in their shoes,” he said about those who receive items. “It’s disturbing to see them and it’s cold outside, their coats are flimsy and whether they’re sleeping inside or outside they still need to be warm.”

And there’s another very important thing Litwin makes sure those attending receive.

“I think that they need to see that someone cares – at anytime of the year.”

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