Hundreds of people packed themselves into a small gymnasium at the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Downtown Community Centre on Wednesday afternoon to browse through mountains of sweaters and dozens of racks of jackets for the 12th annual Cool Aid Coat Giveaway.
More than 250 jackets and countless sweaters, scarves, toques, gloves and boots collected from the community were given away to people in need, ranging from young families to senior citizens.
“I think we did a little bit better this year, and certainly the attendance is much higher which illustrates the need in the community,”said Wendy Stone, program coordinator of the Cool Aid Society’s casual labour pool, which organized the event. “It’s pretty incredible, I think we exceeded attendance in the first 15 minutes over last year’s event.”
People left with handfuls to entire garbage bags of garments to keep them and their families clothed for the next few months.
Mark Steele, who was volunteering at the event, knows how important the day is.
“Eighteen months ago I was homeless and on the street and soaked through,” he said. “These are life-saving events; they happen once per year and some of these people just don’t have the budget to buy new stuff.”
Cindy Matkin attended the event for a second year in a row, finding a windbreaker and a couple fleecy sweaters her size.
“I was waiting all year for this one,” she said. “It makes it so it’s easier to get warm, it’s been pretty cold out there.”
Anyone interested in donating to the cause can drop off donations at 465 Swift St. Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information on the Cool Aid Society’s casual labour pool and its initiatives, visit coolaid.org/how-we-help/labour-pool.