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Better Winnipeg: Clothing program expands at homeless shelter but shortage of underwear, socks remains

Better Winnipeg: Clothing program expands at homeless shelter but shortage of underwear and socks remains
WATCH: Siloam Mission has upgraded to a much bigger clothing room and is still in need of more socks and underwear to keep up with demand. Global's Eva Kovacs reports.

Better Winnipeg is a regular feature that highlights people, events and organizations that make Winnipeg a great place to live. If you have a story idea send an email to betterwinnipeg@globalnews.ca

After busting at the seams for years, Siloam Mission’s clothing program has moved to a new location. The new space at 309 Logan Ave. is nearly four times larger.

“With more space that means we can put more out for our community to select from,” said Lauren Ferguson, clothing program manager.

Every week close to 500 people visit the clothing room. For individuals experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg, this is a critical place to turn for clean, dry clothes.

READ MORE: BLOG: How often do you change your underwear?

Dawn Baker first visited the clothing room three years ago.

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“It’s not trash clothes – it’s not clothes you get from a dumpster,” Baker said.

“These are clean clothes, they are well maintained. You just feel more human.”

Baker was 50 years old when she lost her apartment.

“I always had an apartment, I always kept it clean, managed my depression but one thing happened and I lost my cat and my depression spiraled out of control. And before I could get it in control I lost my apartment.”

Once a week people can book an appointment to pick out fresh clothes. Appointments are available six days a week. Each visitor has 15 minutes and can take one of everything including shirts, pants and outerwear.

But underwear and socks are the most sought after items.

“Once we get it in it’s off our shelves right away,” Ferguson said.

Empty underwear bins at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg.
Empty underwear bins at Siloam Mission in Winnipeg. Global News

When it comes to underwear in particular, the clothing room just can’t keep up with the demand.

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“Sometimes you know people will go a month without getting a new pair of underwear,”

Unlike donations of shirts and pants that can be used items, underwear and socks must be new.

READ MORE: Knickers and Kickers: Siloam Mission hoping to replenish underwear, socks through donations

Both layers of clothing are critical for protecting against the cold and infection.

Once socks get wet or sweaty, a person’s feet get cold fast. Frostbite is a very real risk during the winter.

Baker knows first-hand how important those items are to warmth, health and one’s dignity.

“Just because we’re homeless doesn’t mean we stop being people,” Baker said.

Clothing donations can be made to Siloam Mission’s new clothing room location at 309 Logan Avenue (drop-off on the Stanley Street side of the building).

  • Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Weekends and holidays: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.