Mom of man who died of overdose collecting sandals, hygiene products in his memory

A Winnipeg woman is honouring her son who died five years ago of a drug overdose by collecting sandals, snacks and hygiene products for those who are homeless. 

Sandi Shaver will distribute the gifts on July 17, which would have been her son Cameron’s 28th birthday. 

Shaver said her son used to volunteer at the Siloam Mission every Christmas, so collecting items for those who are homeless seemed like a poignant way to remember him. 

She said she was a single mom when Cameron was growing up, and that the family struggled to make ends meet sometimes, which inspired him to give back. 

He wanted to give back to people because we knew what it was like to not have food and to struggle with certain pieces of that kind of life of poverty, and he just wanted to do something good for the community,” she said. 

Cameron also gained the nickname “sandals” from his friends, for playing basketball in sandals and socks, so that type of shoes also has a special meaning, Shaver said. 

LISTEN | Sandi Shaver tells Information Radio about her campaign:

Information Radio – MB7:56Sandals for the streets— A Winnipeg mother has found a meaningful way to honor her son who died of a drug overdose.

Sandi Shaver tells host Marcy Markusa why she’s collecting sandals to help other people living on the streets and Struggling with addiction. 7:56

Cameron struggled with addiction for several years, and Shaver said it was difficult to get him help. 

“It’s a very vicious cycle,” she said. 

But a move to Gillam, Man., helped Cameron stay sober, after his godfather got him a job there. Unfortunately, when the job ended, Cameron had to move back to Winnipeg, where his addictions got the best of him. 

It was not long after the move back to the city that he died of a fentanyl overdose, Shaver said. 

Now, Shaver remembers him for the loving, funny son that he was. Though some kids might not get along with their parents as teens, that was never the case with Cameron. 

Sandi Shaver’s son, Cameron, would have been 28 this July. (Submitted by Sandi Shaver )

“He would always come and say hi to me, even when he was with his friends, like, ‘Hang on, I got to go say hi to my mom, I gotta go talk to my mom for a sec,'” she said. 

“He just was just a great kid and had a big heart. He just struggled with addiction.”

Shaver has dubbed her campaign Sandals for the Streets. 

In addition to sandals, Shaver is also collecting hygiene products. (Submitted by Sandi Shaver)

So far Shaver has collected about 30 pairs of sandals, but needs other items as well such as menstrual products, travel-size shampoos and body washes, soaps, toothpaste and deodorant.

She said she’s planning to reach out to the Bear Clan Patrol to help her distribute the sandals and other products once she’s finished collecting them. In addition, she’s raising money to buy new pairs of sandals to donate to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre, so that new residents can each have a pair of new sandals. 

Those who are interested in donating items or funds can contact Shaver at sandalsforthestreets@gmail.com. She’s also set up a Facebook page.