For three hours today (Monday, Dec. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m.) Langley’s Cierra Foster will be set up in Brookswood, collecting donations for Langley’s homeless.
“I have noticed such an increase in homelessness in Langley, and with the tents that were all set up on Fraser (Highway) and 208th (Street) a couple months ago, it really made me realize how many homeless people there really are right in Langley – where I live,” she told the Langley Advance.
Hence the creation of Reason for the Season: Giving to the Homeless – the Langley version.
This year and last, Foster held an outreach event for those living on the streets in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. She and the team were in Vancouver this past weekend.
“We served more than 250 people sandwiches, scones, cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee. We suited them up with warm clothes, blankets, shoes, and we handed out our care packages,” Foster said.
“I met so many people, listened to so many of their life stories, and I hope that our group has made a difference for some of these homeless people. Most of them have spent their entire lives right on Hastings, we even saw a few familiar faces from the previous year. One lady was wearing the same jacket we gave her last year,” she recounted, still pumped from this past weekend’s outreach and excited about bringing a similar initiative to her own hometown of Langley later this week.
On Saturday, Dec. 31, she and a number of volunteers will distribute donated food, toiletries, and clothing to Langley’s homeless. The exact location in downtown Langley City has still to be worked out, but Foster hopes to make that announcement this week.
“I am really excited to see how our Langley event will go. I feel those in Langley do not receive as much as those on Hastings might. This is our first year doing an event in Langley and I think it is going to be very successful,” she told the Langley Advance just hours before collection was set to begin.
Today, she said, is all about collecting the donations that will be handed out on New Year’s Eve.
“We ask that our community please consider a donation or a sponsorship of our event this year. Because we are extending the event to include Langley, we will need more donations,” said Foster.
“If people can go through their closets to gather up the things they no longer put to use, we can brighten the holidays for some of the homeless in our area.”
This is only her second year of hosting this event and “we’ve already become so much bigger and better,” Foster said.
“I started this event last year. This wasn’t a school project or something I was assigned to do. I was just sitting at home one day and felt the need to start my own event like this where I am able to help some people who are in need,” she explained.
“I love to help people. With the help of my family and friends and some new friends I’ve created on the way, we go out and handout to the homeless ourselves. I like to do it ourselves because it gives us the opportunity to actually connect and get to know some of these people and their personal stories,” Foster elaborated.
Her hope is to do more events all around the Lower Mainland, and not just around Christmas but throughout the year.
This, she said, is just the beginning.
For now, she said, a group of about 10 to 15 volunteers – primarily from Langley – are focusing their efforts on collecting for the Langley Reason for the Season event on Dec. 31.
The local donation drop-off will be set up at George Preston Recreation Centre, in the east parking lot today (Monday, Dec. 19) from 1 to 4 p.m.
The groups is “seeking: grocery store gift cards, food items, pet food, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, clothing – including jackets, shoes, toques, gloves, socks, and unused undergarments – and blankets.”
For those unable to deliver to Brookswood today, Foster said alternate arrangements can be made to collect donations. Just contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 778-873-7819.
CAPTION: Julia Minaker handed out some needed items to a homeless lady in downtown Vancouver’s Eastside during last year’s Reason for the Season: Give to the Homeless event – which is extending to Langley this year.