The generosity of people leading up to the Christmas holidays can be counted upon to fill the food bank shelves and top up the community fuel fund. Toy and clothes drives prompt people to empty closets and purses to aid those in need.
But at Parents Place, a resource centre for children and their families, the needs don't stop on Christmas Day. That's why they have become one of the main local depots for distributing the clothing collected during the holidays.
On any given day four of five people are coming into Parents Place on Barnard Street looking for coats and other outerwear to keep them warm. Executive director Annette Muise says every time the temperature drops the staff knows there will be an influx.
“We definitely see a lot of families struggling right now. With winter coats and even our diaper and formula programs, we’re seeing an increase in the need,” she said.
For the last four years Ivan Doucette has spearheaded the Yarmouth Lions Club’s Coats for Kids campaign and most of the outerwear that is collected ends up at Parents Place. From there it is distributed to anyone who is in need. Since the program began, the local club's King Lion estimates around a thousand pieces of outerwear, the vast majority of which are winter coats, have been donated.
“Last year alone I brought four truckloads full of clothing here,” he said during his last delivery to the centre before Christmas.
“There is a great need for winter clothing because there are so many people doing without,” he said.
He worries that this year he's seen a slight decline in giving and blames the local economy for the decline.
"People are holding on to their things longer," he said.
Coats for Kids is one of several programs that distribute clothes through Parents Place.
Muise says, “We’ve seen an increase in needs, in the last couple of years, with unemployment rates and everything else that’s happened.”
It is one of several community-based programs that collect new and gently-used clothing for those in need.
When Parents Place re-opens next Wednesday, Jan. 2, Muise says there will be plenty of coats available in all sizes, thanks to the generosity of people in the community.
Although not part of Parents Place’s core mandate, being a distribution point from which people in need can get necessities like diapers, formula and warm clothes just makes sense, she says.
“Within the core mandate there are needs there that have to be met, and we already have the families accessing programming, so it’s a lot easier to also get these kinds of things here,” she said.