Chez Doris puts out call for warm-clothing donations as winter raps on Montreal's door

While the non-profit organization has been inundated with donations in the past, key items are often missing. For example, quality boots are an item that people don’t often donate enough.

Women have arrived at day shelter barefoot in the winter, says executive director

Marina Boulos-Winton, executive director of Chez Doris, says warm clothing, ranging from hats and scarves to jackets and socks, is needed. (CBC)

As Montrealers dig out their cold-weather wear for the incoming winter, a local day shelter for women is asking people to donate warm clothing for its clients.

"We do need winter coats, hats, scarves and most especially boots and socks," Marina Boulos-Winton, executive director of Chez Doris, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Monday.

The organization provides support to women dealing with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and addictions. Chez Doris is the only women's day shelter in Montreal that's open seven days a week. 

There were a lot of asylum seekers at the shelter in recent months, she explained, and, for many of them, it will be their first winter.

They have very little money, she said, and they often have little to no winter clothing.

While the non-profit organization has been inundated with donations in the past, key items are often missing. Quality boots, she said, are always needed.

Also, she said, "socks are hugely important during the winter" because 30 per cent of the shelter's clients are homeless and need to keep their feet dry.

In winter months, these women are often hovering around building vents that release hot air or staying at libraries and coffee shops, she said, and they need warm clothing to get through the day.

Beyond donating clothing, monetary donations help the organization keep up with priority needs — such as women with bare feet.

"Sometimes women will come with no shoes at all," she said.

"They have escaped a predator who has stolen their shoes so they don't get away. We have seen some girls come in with no shoes in the middle of winter."

Chez Doris will expand its services after it takes possession of the second building in November. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Donated money, she said, would go to ensuring women with no shoes have new boots that fit even if there are no fitting donated items in stock.

Financial donations will also go toward the organization's effort to expand in the coming years.

A $1-million donation from Andrew Harper has been invested in a second building and Chez Doris will be expanding its services — services that will include emergency overnight beds.

While the $1-million donation spurred the expansion, Boulos-Winton said the organization is now raising funds to cover additional costs and a larger operating budget.

"We're expanding to meet the need, so of course funding is going to be an issue," she said.

"You become like a 24-hour service, so it's like doubling your budget."

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak