It is brutally cold outside for homeless people in Maple Ridge.
A trio of volunteers who bring food and warm clothes to people living on the streets in Maple Ridge are asking for support.
Brian Smeding of HELP Christian Fellowship said the weather has been “ridiculous” for people living outdoors, alternating between deluges of rain to biting cold. He and two other volunteers go out five nights a week, and he knows how cold the people in the streets are when he sees a man reach out for an offering of a blanket or gloves, and the receiving hands are ghostly white.
The coming days have rain and flurries in the forecast, with lows near zero forecast all week.
Although people can get into the Salvation Army and out of the cold, Smeding said not all of them do, for a variety of reasons.
To these people he and his HELP volunteers bring the items they are now asking for in donations – warm socks, coats, hoodies, rain gear, gloves, mittens, tarps and blankets. They need clothing for both men and women, but men’s is in greater demand.
They also make sandwiches – peanut butter, jam, hazelnut spread and honey – and are looking for donations. Smeding said they could make sandwiches with more nutritious ingredients, but the clientele actually prefer a sugary PB&J to California cuisine. They also serve warm drinks – coffee and hot chocolate.
Smeding was doing this kind of outreach work in 2015, but he stopped when his business closed, and went to Bible College. With COVID-19 and the closure of businesses in 2020, he again saw a crying need, and has been doing his tours since March of 2020.
“By May we had already given out 5,000 sandwiches,” he said. Since then he’s lost count, but they’ve gone through thousands of jars of peanut butter.
He started doing the tours seven nights a week, but has since dropped to five.
Anyone who can donate the warm clothing needed, or peanut butter, jam, honey or Nutella, should email email@example.com.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.