Tents line Pandora Avenue near Our Place Society on March 25 in downtown Victoria. (Arnold Lim/Black Press Media)

Greater Victoria charities organize physically distanced tent, sleeping bag drive

Neighbourhood Response Team accepts sleeping bags, mats and tents Saturday in Victoria

Anyone looking to donate gently used tents, sleeping bags or sleeping mats for Greater Victoria’s vulnerable population can do so safely this weekend thanks to a group of local charitable organizers.

The Neighbourhood Response Team, powered by United Way Greater Victoria in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria and the HeroWork Society, hosts a safe social distancing collection drive on Saturday, April 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.

The drive will follow specific protocols to allow for physical distancing as required by the provincial health officer during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria raises $1M in 36 hours for those in need

The need is for gently used tents, non-flammable tarps, sleeping bags and sleeping mats to help the homeless self-isolate during the ongoing pandemic. They cannot accept pillows, sheets, blankets or other household items.

While they ask for clean items, there’s no need to bag the camping gear, just toss it in the trunk then head for the parking lot off Pembroke Street between Quadra and Blanshard streets. Follow the directions of traffic volunteers who will direct drivers where to stop, and stay in the vehicle. Volunteers will unload donations from the trunk. Traffic volunteers will guide drivers out of the parking lot.

Pedestrians and cyclists will have a designated drop zone on Quadra Street near the entrance to the Victoria Curling Club.

There are some socially responsible rules. Only attend if you are feeling healthy and respect social distancing and volunteer instructions. If possible, combine the drop off with other errands to limit time out in the community and away from home.

At the end of the day, donations will be stored securely in a truck that will be quarantined for 72 hours before materials are distributed to people in need. Distribution will be coordinated by the Dandelion Society and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.

RELATED: Tents, sleeping bags donated to Our Place from local Victoria store

The service comes from a trio of social service giants in Greater Victoria. The United Way of Greater Victoria, one of the region’s largest annual funders of local social service programs, uses a collaborative approach bringing organizations together to build stronger, more resilient communities.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria has spent four decades providing mentors for children and youth through programs in response to identified social issues impacting specific communities.

HeroWork engages more than 150 companies and 900 volunteers each year participating in comprehensive renovations that are completed in a fraction of the normal time and costs for vital causes.

Providing this kind of not-for-profit sector support is possible through United Way Greater Victoria’s Local Love in a Global Crisis Fund. This fund targets four areas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: providing additional help to isolated seniors; augmenting mental health support services; helping the social service sector prioritize and deliver urgent needs; and providing hotel accommodation for frontline service workers.



c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

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