November 20, 2013 4:19 pm

Edmonton’s homeless need your help as temperatures plunge

EDMONTON – With the mercury dropping below the minus 20 degree mark overnight, the city’s homeless are more vulnerable than ever – and in desperate need of winter clothing.

On Tuesday night, one man was found laying unconscious in the cold, suffering from hypothermia. He was spotted by the Hope Mission rescue van, which drives around helping those living on the streets.

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The man was taken to hospital right away, but officials worry that he won’t be the only such case they encounter this winter – especially considering that many of the city’s homeless don’t have the clothes they need to stay warm.

The Hope Mission, which serves about 700 homeless people every day, is asking Edmontonians to help fix that.

“There’s an urgent need for all types of winter clothing,” said Ed Major, who was driving the rescue van Tuesday. “Down from the basics like toques, mitts, scarves – to things like jackets, ski pants, as well as long underwear and socks are always needed.”

“We’re still seeing a lot of folks in our community wearing jackets that are appropriate for fall,” said the Hope Mission’s Devin Komarniski.

“Some are coming in just with a hooded sweatshirt, so we just want to stock up. We know it’s going to be a long winter, especially over the next couple of days when everyone is caught off-guard. We want to get some warm clothes on them.”

Without those warm clothes, even an hour outside can seem like an eternity.

“I’ve been here for about half an hour, 45 minutes. Longest time of my life,” said Faron Harper as he waited to get into a shelter for the night.

Anyone who is able to donate new or gently-used winter clothes can drop them off at the Hope Mission on 99 Street and 106 Avenue.

Follow @TrishKozicka

With files from Shannon Greer, Global News

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