A small group of volunteers in Aldergrove and Surrey are making sure that the homeless and disadvantaged in the Fraser Valley have warm and clean clothing provided at no charge.
Free Clothing BC has been delivering the clothes and personal health items to at least 2,000 people over the past three years it’s been in existence.
Dan and Charmaine Deyette of Aldergrove and Tanya McLean of Surrey first met while serving as volunteers with another organization. They decided to start their own organization in February of 2012, with the goal of providing only new, or clean used, clothing items to those in need.
“We launder every single used item that we give out and we store them in standard storage boxes in heated, rented mini-storage lockers in Surrey and Aldergrove,” says Dan.
“It’s safer and that way there’s no chance of vermin getting into the goods. We feel better about doing it this way than using ‘free’ sheds for storing everything.”
The organization hosts regular events at schools and churches where the public is invited to come in and choose what they may need. These events are publicized through social media such as Facebook, as well as posters at the food banks, Job Zone offices, shelters and so on.
They also do regular deliveries of goods to persons in need at shelters such as Abbotsford’s Warm Zone for women, the 5 and 2 Ministry at the homeless camp at Abbotsford’s Jubilee Park and the Aboriginal Friendship Centre and the Hub Society in Surrey.
“I used to walk around the homeless camp and hand out clothing but the 5 and 2 Ministry pastor knows who needs what and gives it out when they serve dinners every night.
“We drop off ‘premie’ clothes at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, because that’s the most effective way to get these goods into the mothers’ hands,” said Dan.
“We give out diapers, formula, soaps and shampoos, along with only new socks and underwear.
“We also take on individual cases such as the Aldergrove family who just lost their wife and mother, she was only 35, to a heart condition — they needed some help.”
Donors, whether they be individuals, organizations or businesses, drop off new and used goods to the Deyette and McLean family homes or to the mini-storage units. Donors can also arrange pickup of goods by calling 604-512-4116 or emailing email@example.com for Surrey and Delta pickups or firstname.lastname@example.org for Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford pickups.
“Jack Dhaliwal of Aldergrove Mini Storage has been hugely supportive of our program from the start, and with a recent donation from Fraser Point Church we were able to rent another storage unit in Surrey on King George Highway. So we now have two locations for our bases.”
The Fraser Point Church, led by pastor Bill Hamilton at the Chief Sepass Theatre in Fort Langley, has been particularly supportive of Free Clothing BC by providing donations totaling $7,300 over the past two years.
These funds enabled the organization to legally incorporate as the Fraser Valley Free Clothing Society, as well as purchase a much-needed enclosed trailer to transport the goods, with money left over to purchase new items such as the socks and underwear.
“We process two and a half truckloads of goods a week and the trailer has been a real blessing. Our children are big helpers but once we’re all in our mini-van there is not much room left over for the clothing boxes and renting a big truck got pricey real fast,” said Dan.
“With the trailer we can now easily carry all the contents of a mini-storage unit to the events.”
Information on the program is on the website: http://www.freeclothingbc.com/ or phone 604-512-4116. Their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/FreeClothing/?fref=ts