With the impending wintery weather this week, office manager at Steinbach Community Outreach (SCO) says this time of year is very hard for our local homeless population.

Charlene Kroeker, who works out of their Drop-in Center along Loewen Blvd says,

“It's obviously very difficult for a person who is out on the streets to survive the Manitoba winters. Our Drop-in centre is open as a warming shelter for those people who have nowhere else to go when it starts to get cold, and the weather starts to get really bad. So, we're a warm place. They can come in, have a hot cup of coffee, a hot meal if they need and just stay warm and dry.”

Kroeker says on extremely cold winter days, they have had visitors come in with frozen fingers, frozen toes, and a frozen nose.

“It’s hard for them out there.”

For those looking to help SCO fill up their winter-wardrobe closet and help keep an individual warm, Kroeker says they very much welcome donations.

“We love to take in, things like parkas, winter boots, mittens and tuques, especially those that are like, wind and water-resistant mittens because everybody's walking quite far, and you know, you want something that blocks the wind and keeps your hands warm. And also, those little hand warmers, things like hot-paws that you can stick into your mittens to keep your hands warm or into your shoes to keep your feet warm while you're out there, especially at night. Those things are very important for the people that we're trying to help.”

Kroeker also asks for donations of tarps, she explains why.

“Tarps are super important, especially if you're a person who is sleeping rough. That means sleeping outside in a camp, under park benches. Maybe you're sleeping in ATM vestibule, so tarps help. Either you lay it under your tent, if you have a tent or under your sleeping bag to keep the moisture from seeping up into your sleeping bag, or you lay it over top of your tent to keep the snow off and you know, to try to keep your tent from caving in or falling in on top of you. So, tarps become super important for the people that are sleeping outside. So, tarps are a strong need. We have a lot of asks for those around here.”

Steinbach Community Outreach is open for your donations Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 3:30pm at 345 Loewen Blvd, Steinbach. There is a donation bin set up next to the SCO doors on the west side of the Steinbach Mennonite Church building.

Although the SCO Winter clothing closet may look full right now, Kroeker says she expects guests will be going through it quite regularly after the first snowfall. She invites those who need warm winter clothing to also stop by the SCO Drop-in Centre Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 3:30pm.

With files from Carly Koop


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