No stranger to the streets Bob Dien knows how to dress to survive.
“Layers, that’s how you do it, I’ve got, one, two, three, four, five six layers of clothes that’s how you keep warm,” said the 60-year-old homeless man standing outside St. Saviour’s church hall where he had picked up some bedding and a sleeping bag.
Dien was one of hundreds of people who will be a little warmer on these cold winter nights because of the kindness of Penticton residents and organizers of the sixth annual Cover With Kindness program.
On Monday and Tuesday volunteers walked between the tables piled high with everything from purses to blankets to help those who need it.
“This is so important for the homeless, they’re poor people and they need to stay warm and these people who are doing that are keeping them warm,” said Dien. “Homeless people don’t have a lot so anything that can help means so much.
“I’m homeless and it’s not good.”
The hall is tucked in between the church proper and the Soupateria where many of the people have their only nourishing meal of the day.
“They do care and we all should care about everybody in life, I try to care for people and that’s the way it should be,” said Dien.
Although he does his best to stay out of the limelight Penticton notary Greg Litwin has been the driving force behind the project.
He can often be seen standing outside the church ringing a Christmas bell and welcoming people inside with a smile and warm holiday wish.
Mathie Franchuk was another person who could not say thank-you enough to the caring community she lives in.
“I was homeless a while ago but I’ve gotten a place recently but I don’t have any warm bedding or clothing. “The people are so kind and really friendly and not judgemental.”
Living on a disability pension, she has limited money for things outside of the basics.
“It’s just so nice to be able to stay warm and they have such an array of bedding and sheets and pillows and foam sleeping bags and socks and scarves, everything you need for the winter.
“It does restore your faith in humanity. There are a lot of good people in Penticton.”
Inside the hall Lisa Grey-Dreaper was once again this year donating her time and good spirits to the cause.
At the same time she was still accepting donations from people wanting to help.
“I think with the way things are going the need is growing every year. I’ve been doing this for a few years and there are definitely some new faces,” she said. “The people who come in here love it, they are so appreciative.
“At the end of the day I feel fantastic, it’s a chance to give back and to see the smiles on the faces of the people when they leave is just such a good feeling.”