Penticton group returns to the streets for another winter of help for those in need | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton group returns to the streets for another winter of help for those in need

Keep the Cold Off Penticton's SUV is a familiar sight in downtown Penticton during the winter months as the group works to provide the city's homeless and poor with the necessities for the winter season.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Keep The Cold Off Penticton Facebook page

As winter approaches, Penticton’s Keep the Cold Off Penticton Foundation is back on the streets offering comfort and assistance to those in need.

The group began under the leadership of Mike Forster in the fall of 2015, with a goal to help the homeless or anyone in need stay warmer in the winter by raising money to purchase winter necessities.

Forster says things are improving for the homeless and disadvantaged in Penticton, but there is still lots to be done.

“It’s definitely better than what it was, with more affordable housing that we didn’t have before. We’ve put a roof over their heads, but many are still lacking in services. Some have little more clothing than what they are wearing, and meals are still scarce in the city,” Forster says.

Different groups sponsor meals on different days, but generally only for one meal and only one day a week, so there are spaces to fill there, too, Forster notes.

Partner Kristen Trickey says Keep the Cold Off Penticton is focussing on distribution of emergency supplies, cold weather items, clothing and sleeping bags for those in need, in addition to basic toiletries, water and non-perishable snacks.

“We are trying to fill in the gaps where there is less support available from other groups, and we’d like to continue this year-long,” Trickey says.

The two spend most of their time downtown, driving to “all the hiding spots, nooks and crannies where no one else wants to go.”

Forster says community partners have really stepped up in recent years. Keep the Cold Off has partnered with The Hamlets, Prairie Valley Lodge in Summerland and D’Angelo Estate Winery, who put together a wine basket which will be auctioned off and proceeds used to purchase sleeping bags and outreach support items.

Socks for Santa provided 28 pairs of thermal socks as well. Keep the Cold Off also partners with other groups to share resources.

Keep the Cold Off Penticton is hosting a wrapping party on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. Members of the public are invited to join group members in putting together festive packages with such items as sleeping bags, hand warmers, holiday cards and other cold weather items for those in need.

The group hopes to make 50 gifts for distribution in mid-December, with a location to be announced. Those interested in helping out are invited to message Keep the Cold Off Penticton.

Forster says he’s not as pushy as he was when he initially began the organization.

“Everyone has really stepped up since then,” he says.

One thing he would like to see, however, is a community drop off point in the city, preferably in a retail outlet where items for donation could be dropped off. Right now, the group is doing a lot of driving around to pick up items, which an be difficult and time consuming to do.

Anyone who might be able to help out can contact Forster at the foundation's Facebook page.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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