By Angelica Ingram
On cold winter days Thomas Smith still feels warm thanks to a free coat he received a few years ago. An employee at Haliburton Foodland, Smith moved to the Highlands from Cambridge and heard about the Share the Warmth giveaway at the right time in his life.
“At that point in time I didn’t have a job. I had just moved up here and only had a fall jacket and I didn’t have any money to spend on a new coat,” he said. He hasn’t forgotten about how this community’s generosity benefited him. “It got me through and I still have it,” Smith says about the coat he received during the Share the Warmth giveaway that year. He hopes to donate his coat back one day.
Share the Warmth is an annual event organized by SIRCH Community Services. Last year, 1,450 pieces of good, used winter wear were donated! Volunteers checked and sorted the items. Then coats, snow pants, socks, boots, hats, mitts, scarves and other winter accessories for men, women and children were given away from two different sites in the county on a particular day.
In Haliburton County the HKPR District Health Unit estimates that approximately 25 per cent of local children live in poverty, meaning new winter gear may not be an option for them. It is more important than ever to help those who are vulnerable stay warm.
The SIRCH Sixth Annual 2021 Share the Warmth event is starting this week. If you have items you would like to donate, please ensure they are clean, in proper working order and are void of stains, rips and other signs of extreme wear.
Bring your donations, between Oct. 18 and Oct. 30 to one of these drop off locations:
Minden drop off at: Easton’s Valu-Mart, Dollo’s Foodland, St. Paul’s Anglican Church
Haliburton drop off at: Park’s Foodland, Todd’s Independent, SIRCH Community Services, Algonquin Outfitters
SIRCH Share the Warmth Distribution Day is Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Haliburton pick up location: Lakeside Baptist Church
Minden pick up location: St. Paul’s Anglican Church (capacity of 6 inside at a time)
Masks must be worn, but SIRCH is not requiring vaccine passports.
Everything will be available free of charge.
SIRCH executive director Gena Robertson believes this initiative is just another example of neighbours helping neighbours in whatever way they can.
“It is so heartwarming to hear stories like the one Thomas shared, about how a simple gesture of receiving a coat has left a lasting impact,” she said. “We have seen so much generosity in the past when it comes to Share the Warmth and we are hopeful this year will be no different.” She is particularly appreciative of the many stores that collect the winter clothing on SIRCH’s behalf.
Smith is grateful to SIRCH for their ongoing support of the community. “They will give you some sort of connection on where you can get help. They’re very helpful in that way,” he said. “They are a great resource for the community.” He would recommend the Share the Warmth giveaway to anyone who might be in need of winter gear.