PSS Aboriginal Leadership Group runs second warm clothing drive

Collection boxes available throughout town until Dec. 15 donation deadline

Do you have any winter coats that have been relegated to the back of your closet, replaced by a newer design?

Or what about the basket of toques that sits on a shelf, overflowing even though only your two or three favourites get any real wear?

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If you’re looking to declutter while helping a community member in need, Pemberton Secondary School’s (PSS) Aboriginal Leadership Group has just the initiative for you. They’re running a warm clothing drive for the second year in a row, after successfully helping keep members of the area’s First Nations communities warm and cozy last winter.

“Last year we probably sorted at least 40 bags of clothing, which was way more than we anticipated. Anything that even approaches that, we’d see as a huge success,” said Steve Evans, a teacher involved with the group. “I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to do as well as we did last year. There was a big outpouring of support. We received a lot — a lot more stuff than we expected — really a very large volume of clothing and a lot of generosity. It was huge last year. Hopefully we have the same amount of support this year, but it was pretty huge.”

It was a few of the students who first pitched the idea last winter, explained Evans. “The kids liked the idea, so we made it happen,” he said. “We weren’t 100 per cent (sure) if we were going to do it again this year, but there were a few people in the community who were asking about it happening again. Some staff who work with the ministry of families reached out to us, so we thought we’d do it again.”

Despite the previous year’s success, Evans said he was surprised to receive so much interest in reviving the initiative from the community.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “I think that’s what we were hoping for, and it was a nice affirmation that what we had done last year was obviously productive. And being able to share that with the students, and (tell them) ‘you obviously touched enough people that it’s an initiative, however big or small, that’s worthwhile to do again.’ That was empowering for them.”

This year’s clothing drive kicked off last week, with donation boxes placed at the high school, the Pemberton & District Community Centre, as well as Pemberton Valley Supermarket and AG Foods, all ready to be filled with warm, good-quality winter clothes. The boxes will be available to collect donations until Dec. 15.

“We’re really looking for warm clothing items exclusively,” Evans said. “We’re trying to avoid getting cotton t-shirts and cotton pants.

We really want wool and fleece jackets, and waterproof jackets and pants, warm boots, warm gloves, toques, scarves — things that are going to keep people warm. We’re not looking for just regular clothing items.”

The items in particularly high demand would fit older children and younger teens, around the ages of eight to 15, Evans added.

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