Random strangers stopped by the Anita Place Tent City over Christmas, just to help where they could and to show that they were thinking of those spending their time outside.
Camp volunteer Chris Bossley posted images of the big day on Anita Place Tent City Facebook page, showing the variety of people who gave some of their time to help out the campers.
“From the moment I arrived, until the moment I left, we greeted one group of visitors after the other, just the loveliest people,” Bossley said.
“To me, people taking time out of their day, that really showed a lot to me, that people were really thinking a lot about the folks at the camp.”
People like to bring donations to the camp because it allows them to contribute directly and bypass the middleman, she added.
If it wasn’t for the tent city being there, people wouldn’t know where to find them in order to help out, she added.
The help was given without judgment, she added.
And what was most moving was when kids got involved to help out.
One family of four stopped by with donations, though she didn’t get their names, although she did get the names of Joel and Valerie, who also stopped in, as did another family who personally brought in hot cups of coffee and delivered them to each tent.
Someone else brought a big cistern of coffee, and butter tarts, too.
The Facebook photos prompted Nancy McManus to comment: “These are the true citizens of Maple Ridge. The ones who respect all people and do not judge based on circumstance. The ones who accept all people as their neighbours and take time out of their celebrations to visit with our residents who live at the camp. Thanks to all of these folks who made the season just a little bit brighter for the people at Anita Place.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read also thanked people for helping out.
“My heart was warmed to see the compassion of our community bring love to the camp. Thank you for posting the pictures – they filled my heart with gratitude,” Read said.
On Christmas Eve, two neighbours who lived near the camp, dropped off some warm coats. The same day, people from Church on the Rock came by with boxes of Tim Bits.
“The kids asked if it would be OK to walk through camp and personally deliver them to each tent, and one of the campers was happy to escort them through camp so they could do so,” Bossley said.
To keep things from getting too slippery, someone named Andy dropped off two bags of road salt, while Erica Cooper and Kimberley Roberts dropped off bags full of sandwiches labelled “Merry Christmas.”
Former tent city opponent Grover Telford announced his change of heart with tones from the Charles Dickens Christmas tale.
“I publicly apologize to Mayor [Nicole] Read for opposing her efforts to provide housing in the past. I was wrong as Jacob Marley stated in A Christmas Carol, lol.”
Others online however opposed the camp and housing, with Pat Carlson questioning providing modular housing and posted a story from October in Concerned Citizens of Maple Ridge, noting five people died in Abbotsford in one day from drug overdoses. Nobody using hard drugs should be living alone or behind any kind of door with a lock on it, Carlson added.
Geff te Boekhorst added more overdoses will result when people have their own homes.
A modular washroom building was installed on the tent site last week, but isn’t yet in service.