Christmas in the Bag returns, looking to gather essential items for the homeless

Christmas in the Bag begins

Businesses around Kamloops are getting ready to collect items for Christmas in the Bag, a donation drive that aims to gift packages of essentials like socks and hygiene items to those in need.

The annual charity drive is run as a collaboration between a number of local businesses, including The Mustard Seed, HUB Insurance, Manhandler Barbershop and Castanet Kamloops.

Kelly Thomson, managing director for the Mustard Seed, said it is an opportunity to give the homeless and vulnerable community some of the things they need.

“A lot of this kind of stuff is just basic stuff for you and me, these are things that are in the background. We don't even think about our toothpaste and toothbrushes and deodorant and socks and underwear,” Thomson said.

“But if you're on the street, it's a whole different matter, especially [when] you finally get around to getting a shower and you don't want to be putting on the old stuff again.”

Items like underwear, deodorant, soap, lip balm and travel-sized games will be collected in colourful, gift-wrapped cardboard boxes found in a number of locations across Kamloops from from Nov. 25 until Dec. 20.

Volunteers from The Mustard Seed will then collect the donations, package them into individual bags for men and women, and will give them out to the homeless at an annual Christmas dinner hosted by the non-profit.

The goal is to stuff 250 bags full of items.

Deanna DeCicco, owner of Manhandler Barbershop and founder of Kamloops Givers — who will be contributing nylon backpack bags and insulated coffee mugs to the drive — said that donations of all sizes are welcomed.

“No matter how small of a donation you have, it can be part of something so much bigger,” DeCicco said.

“Even if it's one pair of socks, you can say you've given towards 250 bags towards the homeless this year. …You can give anything and it will grow and it will become these bags.”

Kamloops Givers’ Kristi Carter said it has been “remarkable” to see the businesses and community members come together to give to the project since it began years ago.

“The amount of items that came in was just so abundant, it was wonderful to see,” Carter said.

Thomson said there are seven drop-off centres for items, including at Castanet Kamloops’ office and The Mustard Seed Thrift Shop along Seymour Street, Manhandler Barbershop on Victoria Street, and four HUB International locations across the city.

Each day, starting on Dec. 7, there will be a specific items residents are encouraged to donate. A full list of items can be found here.

“The thing that I wish to express most more than anything, it's just our community of Kamloops, it’s just such a giving place,” Thomson said.

“I'm always so proud of our community of Kamloops, how we step up, for our vulnerable population or evacuees or whatever it happens to be. It's just a great city. And I just want to say a huge thank you.”

It’s a sentiment shared by DeCicco as well.

“We're just really thankful that people are joining into Christmas in the Bag and that new businesses are coming in,” she said.

“Hopefully we'll have lots of donations this year.”

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