A local businessman is spreading some holiday cheer to those accessing services at Our Place Society.
Sweetpal Chauhan is the operator of seven Shell gas stations across Victoria, as well as an owner of several other businesses in the region. As a way to give back to the community and to those he feels are his “extended family,” Chauhan is donating 100 brand new jackets and 100 brand new sleeping bags to Our Place.
“If I look back, I came from India 13 years ago and started with $100 in my wallet and have gone up the ladder,” he said. “I’ve seen poverty and challenges … if my [mother] hadn’t given me the correct education I might be cleaning dishes somewhere in India.”
According to Grant McKenzie, director of communications for Our Place, the lack of day shelter has been a big concern as of late due to the tightening COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re really seeing people who are being forced to spend more time outdoors than normal,” he said, adding that normally Our Place can shelter hold up to 200 people inside during normal times but now only about 50 people can be inside at once. “Being able to give people a warm, dry jacket and then giving them a clean, warm sleeping bag can really mean the difference between life and death for so many people.”
Chauhan feels a moral obligation.
“The business community, the people like us who have opportunity in this challenging time – let’s work together and do something better for the people in need. Let’s not isolate them and have anger towards them, those are the people who are already suffering so much. This is the time to show that love and [do] whatever we can contribute back to those people,” he said.
Currently, Our Place is in need of men’s clothing donations, along with socks and underwear but would prefer monetary donations.
“We can stretch $1 like nobody else,” said McKenzie.
Learn more about Our Place, or donate online at ourplacesociety.com.