Hundreds of homeless without 'Kindness Kits' due to lack of donations at Kamloops thrift store | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Hundreds of homeless without 'Kindness Kits' due to lack of donations at Kamloops thrift store

Homeless people in Kamloops and surrounding communities are going to be left without 'Kindness Kits' because one local thrift store owner isn't getting enough donations.
November 21, 2019 - 3:45 PM

Homeless people in and around Kamloops are going to miss out on hundreds of donated backpacks stuffed with winter attire and clean clothes due to a shortage of donations to a second-hand store.

Bonnie McBride started Second Chances Thrift Store to benefit the B.C. SPCA and has since added a second location. For the past three years, McBride used some of the clothing donations to create ‘Kindness Kits’ for the local street entrenched population. This year, she hasn’t received enough donations to meet even a fraction of her expected quota.

“We saw a decrease in the amount of clothing we were receiving across the board,” McBride says. “For the first time ever, we don't have enough clothing to meet the needs of the program. We have seen a decline in the amount of clothing we have had donated at our stores.”

Usually, the Kindness Kits are sold for $5 at Second Chances thrift stores and then the purchaser can choose to hand out the bag themselves or donate it to a shelter. Proceeds from the purchase are split between the B.C. SPCA and local charities like ASK Wellness, the Mustard Seed and Canadian Mental Health Association.

“Each kit is curated so it contains a full set of clothing for an individual... There would be two shirts, something warm for over top like a hoodie or a sweater, it’ll have a pair of pants, and it’ll have socks and a toque or whatever accessory we have available,” McBride says.

She was expecting to create 1,000 kits for the holiday season but has only been able to hand out 150 since October. McBride says volunteers often get together to create the kits as a holiday event, but she doesn’t have the resources available to welcome them this year.

“People like to do it as a workplace or an organization, they like to get together and give back this way. We have more groups now looking to come on and put kits together than we can accommodate because we don't have enough clothing,” McBride says.

McBride says the program has gained popularity in the shelters where they are handed out. The grab-and-go style of bags make it easy to meet the needs of any individual, and McBride worries that people will go without dry, warm clothes if she doesn’t get more donations.

“The program has been fantastic. It’s been well-received by the organizations that get the clothes. It’s not a mountain of clothing they have to sort or store, it literally can just be handed over to somebody. For example, CMHA at Emerald House, if they don't have any more beds left they can at least give a bag of clothes they can put on the next day that won’t be wet, and they can organize by size and just hand them out.”

When the donations are plentiful, McBride puts together summer kits that include lighter clothes and a reusable water bottle. McBride says the lack of donations will have an impact larger than the river city limits. She hopes that in the coming years, she will be able to get more kits out to those who need them most.

“We have people from other communities who don't have programs like this, they buy them in bulk and then take them with them,” McBride says. “We’ve literally never had a shortage of clothing before, and it’s taken us a bit aback. We’d like to be able to include all of these groups that want to be a part of it. Without a doubt, we can easily hand out 1,000 kits in a year.”

McBride says she is seeking men's clothing, especially pants, as well as coats, sweaters, pyjamas, socks, and underwear in good condition. You can drop off textile donations to Second Chances in-store at 168 Oriole Road or 1211 8 Street.

Chances are, other privately run thrift stores are seeking donations as well. Look into thrift stores in your area and find the charity that could use your old clothes for something good.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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