Winter is coming.
With this in mind, Positive Living North’s (PLN) Bulkley Valley branch is collecting donations of winter clothing to help the town’s most vulnerable residents stay warm.
On-site manager with PLN Sarah Payne said the not-for-profit feels it’s incredibly important to make sure people have adequate clothing in the winter months, especially for vulnerable populations who might be living on the street.
“At PLN we run a drop-in program so we see a lot of the marginalized people and there are still homeless people — even though we have Goodacre Place — there’s still homeless people in town,” Payne said.
She added living in the elements can put a person’s extremities at high risk of infection.
“A lot of these individuals wear the same socks and the same shoes all year round which can be really problematic to people’s health,” she said. “You can get a thing called ‘street feet’ which is almost like a fungus that starts to grow on your feet; it’s just really problematic for your health, so [the clothing drive] is kind of a preemptive thing to help people stay healthy.”
The idea came up from a Smithers peer harm reduction committee made up of people who have or are currently using substances that meets twice a month.
“They came up with the idea of wanting to help their friends and other people who are marginalized this winter to stay warm,” said Payne.
PLN’s Prince George branch runs a drop-in centre for the homeless population and runs a similar clothing drive in the winter.
Payne said the drop-in program is one of the critical services they offer, noting the issue of homelessness is one still present in the town.
“There are still people who are marginalized in Smithers and who are at risk so this is just kind of like a [method of] harm reduction and just supporting people who just need a little bit of extra help.”
For people interested in donating clothing, PLN is looking for lightly-used winter clothing, including specific requests for boots, socks, hats, scarves, gloves, coats and long underwear.
Donations can be made to PLN’s office at 3862F Broadway Avenue, which is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The drive runs until Nov. 28.