Edmonton's Bissell Centre issues plea for winter gear for homeless

Bissell Centre staff say winter gear is desperately needed for their homeless patrons, as temperatures plunge in Edmonton.

'People do lose their fingers because it gets so cold here'

In the cold days ahead, the Bissell Centre would like gloves to give to Edmonton's less fortunate. 0:55

The Bissell Centre in Edmonton is putting out a call for donations of winter gear, particularly gloves.

"People do lose their fingers because it gets so cold here," said Craig Lidstone, manager of drop-in services at the centre, on Thursday.

"Their hands are extremely important. It's how they are able to pick bottles, get the different things that they need," he added.  "To be a homeless person in Edmonton without use of all of your fingers is really, really tough." 

Lidstone said the temperatures in Edmonton dropped suddenly this week, catching many by surprise.

"We've had a lot of folks coming in and asking for gloves and we've been unable to meet their need," he said.

The centre is hoping to collect hundreds of pairs of gloves in order to build a supply to last through the winter.

Lidstone describes the clientele as "Edmonton's most impoverished, vulnerable and marginalized people" who spend a lot of time outside, even sleeping outdoors.

"There are quite a few people who come through here on a regular basis that have damage to their hands from the cold... they'll be missing one, two, three fingers," Lidstone said.

The Bissell Centre is particularly seeking donations of winter ski-type gloves.

With a late start to the colder temperatures, many people haven't given much thought to donating gloves, Lidstone said.

"That's no one's fault, we kind of had winter sprung upon us, and we didn't have as much time for preparation as we would have hoped for," he said.

Donations can be dropped off at the Bissell Centre at 10527 96th Street during regular business hours.

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