Doug McLeod was at his station on Monday afternoon, collecting coats for the homeless. Parked with his sign at the corner of Alberni Street and Marine Avenue, Doug spent two hours collecting coats, shoes, boots and blankets. His goal was 200 coats to deliver to the homeless in Vancouver. “But even if I only get 100 I’ll still pack them up and get them to where they need to go,” he said.
Just a few weeks ago Doug, and his brother Tim Nicholson, delivered 135 jackets to East Hastings Street. And with the help from a friend from Surrey, they gave out the clothing in record time. “We had a one ton cube van with lots of warm coats and jackets, socks and toques,” Doug said. “Once we opened the back of the van and gave out one coat, word got around and within two hours we had given everything away and we were on our way back to Powell River. It was a one-day trip.”
Doug said he takes the clothing to Downtown East Side, Vancouver because of his experience as a bus driver on the Powell River to Vancouver route for Malaspina Coach Lines. “Every day, I’d drive by the people living on the streets down there, and I’d want to help, he said. “Now I am unemployed and I’m in a position to help. I did some research and found that Vancouver, Victoria and Campbell River were the three places in BC that needed help the most. I think it’s best to go where the resources are very thin, and Powell River has lots of resources, whereas the people in downtown Vancouver don’t.”
For the next shipment, Doug is hoping to get some large men’s coats to distribute. “And it would be great to have some larger sized men’s boots and winter shoes to give out,” he added. “Right now we need more men’s coats then women’s but of course we’ll take any coat that’s donated.We are also looking for warm blankets, sleeping bags and even tents and tarps to help keep the rain off people.”
Doug said although he isn’t affiliated with any local church, he has experienced first hand the help that they give. “They have each been generous, donating clothing as well as sleeping bags, blankets, scarves and hats. Larry from the Salvation Army is coming down here today with 37 pairs of socks for us to distribute,” Doug said. “And the Seventh Day Adventists’ loaned me their cube van for the Vancouver delivery.”
To help pay for their additional expenses, Doug and Tim have set up a Cash Donation Link. “Any money we receive we use for gas and ferries,” Doug said. “On our last trip I also bought a bunch of pairs of gloves from the Dollar Store to give out to people on East Hastings Street.”
Doug said their help is warmly received and well appreciated by the folks he and Tim connect with on East Hastings. He said he hoped with warmer, nice looking clothes, those who are able to look for work will be better prepared. “It might help that little bit,” he said. “And for those who are even less fortunate, about thirty per cent of the people living on East Hastings are either under the influence of drugs and alcohol or suffering the effects from withdrawal, the clothes will at least help keep them warm.”
You will see Doug around town over the next couple of weeks while he continues to collect warm clothing. To donate funds or to find out where Doug’s collection station will be set up next, visit his Facebook page at HelpTheHomelessBC2016