Marg Rose, director of philanthropy, and Steven Seltzer, manager of special events and corporate philanthropy at Our Place are surrounded by tents and sleeping bags which were donated to Our Place from Robinson’s after donors contributed $7,500 to PwC Canada. (Facebook/ Robinson’s Outdoor Store)

Tents, sleeping bags donated to Our Place thanks to local firm and outdoor store

Victoria’s PwC Canada firm and Robinson’s Outdoor store team up to help the homeless

A Victoria-based outdoor store received surprise funds that carried forward to the homeless after having to close its doors.

Robinson’s Outdoor Store, located at 1307 Broad Street, had to shut its doors on March 18 due to COVID-19.

Co-owner Erin Boggs was overwhelmed by the decision to close, but chose to continue to pay her staff to be socially responsible.

“The next morning I woke up so panicked about everything,” she said, adding that she’s just taking over the business from her mom. “But I checked my email and the first one was from Shelley at PwC and it was the most heartwarming feeling.”

Shelley Gilberg of PwC Canada, a national professional services firm, heard about Boggs’s efforts to keep her staff paid and chose Robinson’s as a business to receive a $7,500 donation gathered from several hundred clients.

ALSO READ: Beacon Hill, Topaz, Royal Athletic parks to open as temporary sites for the homeless

Gilberg told Boggs she wanted to use the funds to buy tents and sleeping bags for Victoria’s Our Place Society, which like other outreach services had to close its shelter space due to COVID-19, forcing many people to the streets.

“I was just crying,” Boggs said. “I can’t wait to hug her and have a glass of wine when this is over.”

The next day Gilberg came to the store and, while practising social distancing, the group collected 17 tents and 22 sleeping bags – purchased at a discounted rate – for Our Place.

“We were loading up her car with tears in our eyes,” Boggs said.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria street nurses ask government to help the homeless in COVID-19 crisis

Our Place was thrilled to receive the donation after putting out several pleas to the public to consider donating camping gear.

“The donation of tents by PwC and Robinson’s has allowed us to provide outdoor shelter to a large group of people who suddenly have nowhere else to go,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place. “We’re also trying to encourage social distancing by having the tents spread out, and we hope to see further distancing as the province and city’s emergency plan comes into full effect.”

Boggs said that despite everything that’s going on with the pandemic, actions like this keep things positive.

“Small businesses hold up a lot of our economy, and it’s scary to know if they’ll be able to make it,” she said. “So this was very emotional, but also such a positive feeling of people coming together to help each other when there’s so much unknown.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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Many new tents line Pandora Avenue after Robinson’s made some donations. (Travis Paterson/ News Staff)

Robinson’s Outdoor Store donated more than 30 tents to Our Place after PwC Canada made a $7,500 donating. Pictured: Robinson’s staff David Keay (left), co-owner Erin Boggs and PwC Canada representative Shelley Gilberg. (Facebook/ Robinson’s Outdoor Store)

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