"These clothes are essential and are going to be critical for the next few months," the representative from Inn From the Cold – Kelowna, Kody Woodmass, told Heat play-by-play man, Kirk Penton, on Saturday night during the UBCO men's volleyball match, that served as the culmination of 'Bring the Heat' clothing drive.
In total, 771 much-needed items were collected in the drive in the short week, with over 50 winter jackets, and over 250 smaller winter items such as gloves, toques, and scarves.
The entire content of the drive was loaded into a van on Tuesday morning and taken to the SunFM studios for an interview with the spearheading student-athletes from the men's volleyball interviewed by B Mack and Karly, as the local radio celebrities played a hand in championing the Inn From the Cold drive, and the duo joyfully added UBCO as a partner to their second annual "Cold Weather Clothing Drive".
B Mack and Karly started their drive on December 10th and are hoping to triple the number of donations they received in their first-ever drive, in total over 3000 pieces were collected last winter.
In just a few days the Heat were able to add 771 items towards SunFM's goal SunFM will keep the drive going until February 10th.
Listen to the interview at Sun FM
An early start to the conference season, with students just barely back in class, didn't deter the Heat student-athletes from conducting a highly successful foray into helping their community by identifying a particular need and trying to help out, and this effort couldn't have made UBCO new athletic director Tom Huisman any happier.
"As someone who is still relatively new to the community, it was heartwarming to see the incredible response to the clothing drive from both the UBCO campus and from the community at large. Those who rely on the support and programming of Inn From the Cold are among our community's most vulnerable and are in need of a helping hand and giving heart to be able to make it from one day to the next."
"If we can be even a small part of that environment and community that can help improve their circumstance and lives, that's a special opportunity and privilege. And really, who better to help people needing shelter from the cold than the UBCO Heat."
The timing of the drive, for the Kelowna shelter, couldn't have come at a better time, although still open the shelter is on borrowed time, and with its imminent closing, the homeless population will need the warm items more than ever.
"Our shelter will be unfortunately closing in January," explained Woodmass. "Unfortunately, we have not been able to secure another location yet. Regardless, Inn from the Cold will still run through our office location, ensuring that these members of the community have the support they need, and clothing that is necessary for upcoming cold winter months."
"We are still on the hunt daily for a new location," said an optimistic Woodmass, as he wanted to assure everyone that many of the group's community programs will still be accessible with their Free Store that is co-run with Metro Community, will continue on throughout these months and they will still be providing Case Management, Inn Home Support, and Outreach services to people in need.
In short, with a shelter or not, "Inn from the Cold - Kelowna plans on providing support to the most vulnerable members of the community regardless of our changing environment," Woodmass stated.
The drive for the Heat was championed by student-athletes, mostly from the men's volleyball team, and during the leadup the drive was picked up and sparked by the Kelowna media, particularly SunFM and a great spot by Savannah Bagshaw from KelownaNow.
Huisman, in his first year as the Heat AD, is a big proponent of engaging and helping the community.
"For our varsity teams, I often speak about the need to build and provide an environment of excellence that will contribute to our student-athletes becoming the best they can be in their sport, in the classroom, and as community citizens, and this is really an extension of that fundamental philosophy."
Although the campaign is over the need is not and items and cash can still be donated. The items most sought after during the campaign are: Gloves/mitts, snow pants, jackets, toques, sweaters/hoodies, long johns, winter boots, men's jeans/pants, hand warmers, and toiletries.
If you have none of those items available, the organization will also be able to accept cash/cheque at their office. Tax receipts can be issued for any donation $20 or more. Mailing information will be taken at the time of donation and a tax receipt is processed internally and mailed out. Donations can be brought to IFTC's office at #109-1262 St. Paul Street.
Inn from the Cold – Kelowna (IFTC) is a non-profit organization responding to the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the community.