West Kelowna man collects, donates 1,500 pounds of clothing

1,500 lbs of clothes donated

A West Kelowna resident is calling on the community to help support those less fortunate by donating warm articles of clothing they may not be using anymore. 

Patrick Tondu, held his second ‘Fill-a-Forester’ clothing drive this year and was able to donate about 500 pounds of clothing each to the Kelowna Friendship Society, Metro Community Shelter and the Kelowna Gospel Mission. 

“We all have these clothes that we don’t wear, ever and we look and stare at them in our closet all the time and I just thought ‘why can’t we give them to someone that actually needs it?’” said Tondu. 

He gathers clean clothes from the community, sorts through them and categorizes them before handing the clothes out. Last year, Tondu was able to personally give out the clothing, which gave him a chance to connect with the vulnerable population in Kelowna. But this year due to the pandemic, they dropped off the bags at the shelters.

“Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean people don’t need stuff,” he said. 

“We get to go home to our nice heated houses and drive our new cars and go to restaurants, maybe not right now, but normally we’d go out to eat and do these nice things and you look around and people are sleeping on bus stops and that’s just not okay with me.”

He was able to fill his Subaru Forester last year with warm clothing like ski jackets, pants, scarves, sweaters toques, gloves, boots, new socks and more. This year’s goal, amid the pandemic, was just to make it happen again. 

“With everything that was going on, everybody was kind of reluctant to come out. So I said you know what, just give me your address or a place I can meet you where you can take it out of your vehicle, leave it on the ground and I’ll take it, spray it down, take it home, sort through it.”

This year, Big White Ski Resort donated more than 100 ski jackets from old ski patrol uniforms. 

“Just because they’re a big five-star ski resort doesn’t mean they don’t actually care about those people … these people have probably never been to a five-star anything,” said Tondu.

He laughed that it took him and three others a few days to remove the "Canadian Ski Patrol Safety" patches from them,

“It warms my heart … a lot of people look at homeless people and they kind of go, oh what did they mess up in their life to get there? They don’t know it could be mental health, it could be the lost their job for whatever reason and now they're forced to ask people for change.”

Tondu says he will be continuing the clothing drive next year as well.

If you want to get involved, email him, or message him on the Fill-a-Forester Facebook page

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