Do you have clothes, accessories, or blankets that you don't use anymore?
Organizers of an annual holiday event in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say they have seen an unprecedented decrease in donations.
Presented by BC Housing, the Vancouver Street Store 8.0 offers a free, outdoor pop-up clothing store for people experiencing homelessness. The store is set up like traditional shops, with departments set up in different tents and volunteers acting as sales assistants. The goal of the Street Store is to provide a dignified holiday shopping experience where residents can choose what they want for free.
In addition to the shopping experience, the Street Store also offers free food, drinks, and haircuts.
This year, the event will be held at Oppenheimer Park at 400 Powell Street on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Street Store is what we consider a reverse gala – our take on an event that raises awareness, addresses a need, and brings people together, but instead of dressing up ourselves, we dress the community,” said Christina Wong, Executive Director of Employ To Empower. “We expect it to be the largest Street Store yet, providing a dignified holiday shopping experience where residents can pick what they want and need, at no cost. Last year we were limited by capacity, but this year we have a new location and less restrictions.”
Despite the pandemic, the 2020 event saw a "significant increase" in donations, with 552 bags collected; this was nearly three more than was collected at the 2019 event. However, for this year's event, the community has expressed a need for more men's items.
“We are so encouraged by the community’s support,” said Wong. “About 75 per cent of the homeless population are men, however, there were more than double the donations for women at last year’s event. So we are asking for additional donations for men’s items.”
How and what to donate to the Vancouver Street Store
The community has expressed a need for warm winter jackets, men’s and women’s clothing (specifically pants), men’s winter boots, backpacks, blankets, sleeping bags, winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), and toiletries in good condition.
Summer clothes, children’s clothes, used undergarments, hotel-sized toiletries, books, and household items will not be accepted.
Donors are asked to drop off their new or gently used items on Saturday, Nov. 27; and Saturday, Dec. 4; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 41 East Hastings. Donors are asked to stay in their cars and wait for volunteers to help remove items in order to limit touchpoints.
Volunteers have four different time shifts to select on event day, with those interested to register through this form. Other ways to get involved include becoming a Donation Champion. As well, the Street Store is asking for fund donations to help cover expenses for venue, event equipment, operation costs, and ETE programming. Employ to Empower has more helpful information.
The 2021 event will include COVID-19 regulations, such as screening questions, mandatory masks, sanitation stations, clean donations, physical distancing, and PPEs.
DonationsThe street store is now only accepting:
- Women + Men’s winter jackets + pants
- Medium-sized to large-sized backpacks
- Warm blankets
- Men’s + Women's new underwear
- New towels
- Sleeping bags
- New socks
- Unopened toiletries
- Winter accessories (gloves, scarves, hats)
- Winter boots (especially larger sizes)
They are not accepting:
- Summer clothing
- Kids clothing
- Hotel size shampoos / toiletries
- High heels + open-toed shoes