On Dec. 16, a team of volunteers arrived at my office and we proceeded to load my overflowing offices full of donations of blankets, sleeping bags, winter jackets, hats/toques, socks, boots and long underwear to those in need into a moving van donated by The Fox’s of Remax Penticton Realty. (It should also be mentioned two other realtors, Steve Thompson and Debra Formo, offered their vans as well). The donations filled two vans.
Two days later, another group of volunteers arrived, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Monica and her team of 10, as well as a team from the Bank of Montreal. With several other volunteers we unloaded the vans, then set up tables in the Church Hall at St. Saviors and proceeded to sort through all the donations: children’s clothing, coats, mittens, ski pants and then women’s and men’s items and quickly filled the church hall. It was literally a sea of blankets and winter clothing that greeted my eyes. The big give away days were fast approaching.
By Dec. 19 and 20 (give-away day) it was snowing and very cold. Lisa brought her mirrors so that the receiver of the gift of kindness could see themselves while trying on their winter clothing. Some of those in the lineup offered to shovel the snow, some offered to sweep the stairs and you could see the excitement in their eyes. They wanted to be first to see if they could find something warm for themselves and in some cases find something warm for a loved one.
As they walked through the doors they often stopped and gazed, “Holy cow” one said. “This is all for us?”
Lisa handed them a pair of socks and then they were off in search of a blanket, sheets in some cases, long underwear and a warm winter coat. And so it went on for the two full days of giving where hundreds received a warm smile, help in finding what they were searching for and a garbage bag to carry their winter items. Our volunteers would always ask: is there anything else we can help you find? And, if not have a wonderful Christmas! “Thank you so very much” they replied.
So many volunteers gave of their time and energy and so many donations received from our kind and compassionate citizens of Penticton all have made such a difference to those in need who received those gifts of blankets and warm clothing, the gifts of kindness, the gifts of love.
As Saint (Mother) Teresa said, “We might not be able to change the world, but we may be able to change the world for one person.”
Your gifts of love, kindness and compassion have warmed the hearts and homes for those in need this year and I believe those in need felt the love of their fellow brothers and sisters who were willing to give them a hand and make their life a little warmer and much brighter
As I reflected on our seventh annual Cover with Kindness Blanket Drive I recounted Kim of my office greeting each person who donated items with a smile and thank you and “have a very Merry Christmas,” her husband Roy Ehlers, who helped with loading the vans and the set up at the Church Hall, Bob Cade and Dennis Ebner who received donations from our shut-ins, Paul Bouchard and his staff who volunteered their time, we well as Lyle and his crew from Scotia Bank. Also Tracy Comber, Mary Lee, Tony from The Gym, Tarie Rempel, Pat Simons and her crew and Don McGill and his group.
Without all of our volunteers, our annual Cover with Kindness Blanket Drive would not be possible, so many thanks. Special thanks to Brian Cutler and Grant Klatik of Chamberlain Property Group, Lindsay Hayter and Roger Love of Royal LePage and Deborah Moore and Kim Fowler of ReMax Penticton for being drop off points for donations and also for Brian’s advertising in our local Real Estate review.
And, of course many thanks to our media friends who advised those in need and our community. A great community effort.
As a side note, we had some donations of clothing and blankets left over and we have stored this excess into a storage unit donated by Affordable Storage. Those items will be given to the Free Store at St. Saviours, who will continue to give to those in need in the New Year. As well if a refugee family is in need they will be helped, or if another request is made from an organization and/or church to provide to people in need we will gladly provide. All this is because of the kind and compassionate gifts from the citizens of Penticton and the compassion and kindness of our many volunteers.
As we placed the last bag into our storage unit and I began the drive home I could not help singing/humming that song by Elton John and Tim Rice from The Lion King movie:
“Can you feel the love tonight?
The peace the evening brings
The world for once in perfect harmony
With all its living things.”
And my heart was full of gladness.
Gregory J. Litwin,is the director of the Penticton Soupateria and organizer of Cover With Kindness.