Better Winnipeg: Underwear donations in demand at Siloam Mission
It’s an item of clothing most people take for granted. After all, it’s rarely ever seen. But for those experiencing homelessness, underwear is the toughest thing to come by.
Unlike shirts, pants or jackets, underwear must be new when it’s donated. Supply is extremely limited.
Everyday 100 people stop in at Siloam Mission’s clothing room to pick out clean items. Each person is given two visits to stock up each week. Understandably underwear are snapped up fast.
“If you know you can only come in twice a week, you and I know you’re going to choose underwear,” said Judy Richichi, director of major gifts at Siloam Mission.
The need for clean underwear goes beyond comfort and warmth.
It’s essential in preventing certain types of illnesses like urinary tract infection, cuts and abrasions, chafing from pants when you’re walking around without underwear.
“I think there’s an assumption, everyone has that, but the reality is, everybody doesn’t,” said Richichi.
During our visit to Siloam Mission there were only 6 pairs of men’s underwear available.
Socks are also hard to keep in stock. People experiencing homelessness go through more pairs than most individuals would. Spending the day outside they get more dirty and wet. Once they’re wet, health risks escalate.
Providing clean clothes is an important part of what Siloam Mission does. Part of it is for survival and part of it is to provide dignity to the more than 1,400 people in Winnipeg who are homeless.
“What you see is what you perceive me to be,” said Richichi.
“If I don’t smell nice to you, you make a judgement automatically on who I am and what I might represent. And that’s not always my fault, that’s just my circumstance.”
With more awareness Richichi hopes the underwear and sock bins won’t stay empty for long at Siloam.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.