A one-woman mission to help bundle up Chatham-Kent

Manuela Carmona put together a clothing drive to keep Chatham-Kent's most vulnerable warm through the cold months ahead.

'The need is there and it will always be there unfortunately'

Manuela Carmona and Luke Van Rycheghem in their car with the back seat full of donations. (Provided by Manuela Carmona )

When the weather changes, Manuela Carmona always remembers she can put on a coat and stay warm.

But she knows for others, it's not so easy.

So this year, she started her own winter clothing collection drive called "Bundle up CK."

"My mission is to collect as many items as I can," said Carmona.

Carmona is no stranger to giving. She has lived in Windsor and said she volunteered at the Downtown Mission where she often saw the needs of those who are most vulnerable. It's also something her grandparents in Colombia taught her growing up.

"I just kind of took it upon myself that I decided to step up and do it, even though it's been taught in my family to always give back, but we've never done this before," she said.

Carmona says with so many struggling with the pandemic this year, she knew it was a good time to pitch in and help.

"I think those that normally struggled during this time of winter and fall, that's really cold, and not having the financial need to buy themselves something or have access to go into a store and buy something," Carmona said. "I think that's what sparked my idea this year."

Her parents and boyfriend are helping with collection, and so far there's been a lot of support from those in Chatham-Kent. 

"I was overwhelmed. My family was overwhelmed," Carmona said. "We had a plan of how many people we were going to go to, but the amount of donations that people had at each post, it was incredible."

(Provided by Manuela Carmona)

Half of her garage is filled with donations, which she will drop-off to ROCK Missions later this month.

But she's not done yet  —she has a box at the local Starbucks and will continue to pick up items. She said she would even come to Windsor if there are more donations in the area.

The biggest surprise for her was all of the praise she's received so far.

"Because to me it should be a normal thing that everybody wants to help the less fortunate," Carmona said.

She said even collecting donations from your family can still make a difference in the community. 

"The need is there and it will always be there unfortunately," Carmona said. "But we need people like myself and other people that have been doing this for years that who can actually speak up and try to get as many donations as possible."

Carmona said she will continue the drive in whichever town or city she lives.


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