News / Edmonton

'These people could freeze': Inner-city orgs 'critically low' on gloves and boots

Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre both low on gloves, boots and other winter gear

Eric Lefebvre is hoping for more donations at the Mustard Seed Community Support Centre.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

Eric Lefebvre is hoping for more donations at the Mustard Seed Community Support Centre.

Two inner-city Edmonton organizations are partnering in a plea for donations as winter settles in.

“I do believe all my friends need help,” said Eric Lefebvre, who uses Mustard Seed’s services and also volunteers there.

Mustard Seed and the Bissell Centre have been sharing drop-in space since October, when the Bissell began renovations, and both organizations say they are low on winter clothing donations.

Lefebvre said the demand for warm clothes has created an emergency situation.

“These people could freeze,” he said. “People are sleeping in shelters, sometimes some people are sleeping outside. So it’s terrible … A lot of people sleep at the back alley.”

Mustard Seed’s front-line supervisor Rochelle Nieuwenhuis said the organization is especially low on mittens and gloves.

“Every time someone brings in a bag, it’s used up within the day,” she said. “It’s really hard in the beginning of the winter season to have enough stuff for people.”

Director of programs Kris Knutson said long underwear, toques, boots, jeans and “good sweaters” are also in demand.

With an additional 200 people sharing Mustard Seed’s space every day while Bissell renovates, Knutson said they’re also running low on hot beverages.

“One of the resources that’s being stretched is our need for coffee and coffee supplies,” he said.

“We probably serve over 1,000 cups of coffee a day at that location. We’re going through a lot of coffee between the both of us.”

Bissell Centre spokesperson Darren Brennan said he has seen an influx of donations but is still short on boots and warm gloves.

“We are getting a plethora of jackets and toques and socks and other warm clothing items, which is great. But it’s the gloves and the boots that go the fastest,” Brennan said.

He said hundreds of pairs of gloves were handed out during the season’s first snowfall, and most of the 200 people who come through the centre every day need gloves and boots.

“Right now we are critically low,” he said.

The Bissell Centre is scheduled to fully re-open with additional services in late February 2018.


More on