‘What Christmas is all about’: Bear Clan Patrol launches drive for Winnipeg’s homeless

Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol has launched its annual donation drive aimed at supporting the city’s growing homeless population.

The patrol, known for its grassroots efforts in addressing social issues, says its noticed a shortage of essential items for the city’s unhoused population over the last year. Volunteer Marla Paul Merasty said the drive began in response to Winnipeg’s growing homeless population

“Last year, it was amazing,” said Merasty. “We filled probably about 15 to 20 pumpkin bins last year, and then we handed out all of the things that we got.”

Merasty said all donated items were put to good use last year.

“We kept some for ourselves. But we also took some over to 190 Disraeli, we took over to Siloam Mission, we took over to Salvation Army, and anybody else that was needing things at the time,” said Merasty. “So we kind of shared them, that’s what Christmas is all about.”

Donations are being collected this year at Ron Paul Garden Centre, 2641 St. Mary’s Road. Merasty said it’s a convenient location for Winnipeggers to drop off their donations of socks, mitts, scarves, jackets, boots, granola bars, water bottles, and other necessities.

Response has been a bit slower this time around, something Merasty attributes to the unseasonable mild weather.

“People are just now starting to look at their Christmas trees and setting up their houses with all their decorations,” she said.

With only two bins filled so far, Merasty is optimistic that as December progresses, more donations will come in.

She said the Bear Clan Patrol is asking for items that are easy to distribute and carry, such as wrapped snacks, water bottles, feminine hygiene products, and warm clothing. Merasty encouraged the community to consider donating hotel-sized toiletries, which are more practical for those living on the streets.

Donations are being accepted until Dec. 15 at both the garden centre and the Bear Clan’s Selkirk Avenue office during designated hours. Merasty said anyone not able to make it down can call her directly at 204-797-4956 to arrange a pickup time for their donations.

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