GiveBack Edmonton ensures nobody goes cold this winter

Click to play video: 'GiveBack Edmonton ensures nobody goes cold this winter' GiveBack Edmonton ensures nobody goes cold this winter
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton family has made it their mission to make sure no one goes without warm winter clothing. – Jan 1, 2018

An Edmonton mother once unable to afford winter jackets for her daughters wants to make sure nobody else goes through the same struggle they did.

In 2012, single mother Barbara Sharpe had to stop working due to a severe back injury. She also had to relocate her family from Leduc to Edmonton to seek medical attention and the bills started piling up.

When winter arrived, she only had $150 to her name — for food, utilities and much needed winter clothing.

“I’m on a fixed income, my rent is capped out. I can hardly put food on the table most months,” Sharpe said when describing the difficult time. “Winter hit and I didn’t have any winter wear for me or my girls.”

Sharpe said she went to a local thrift store looking for used coats, but couldn’t afford them — so her and her daughters walked home in the cold.

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When she got home, she realized she had to do something to keep her girls warm. She swallowed her pride and posted on social media, asking for help.

She said the response was instantaneous.

“Within about 20 minutes, I had 40 or 50 people messaging saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got winter wear, I can help.'”

So many donations came her way as a result of that plea, she decided to share.

“I have so many different sizes I can help my friends out and I can help people on the streets — so that’s what we started doing,” she said.

That’s how GiveBack Edmonton was born. It’s a garage in north Edmonton where people can drop off donations, and volunteers use them to make hampers for people that are struggling to make ends meet.

“We are based by community, for community. A lot of our stuff is donated from Edmonton and area residents. We sort them and hand them out to families and people on the streets that are in need.”

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Sharpe asks people to fill out simple forms saying what they need, volunteers make personalized hampers and they are picked up or delivered to the recipient.

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The garage always has winter gear around this time of year. It’s in high demand.

“Jackets, hats, mittens, gloves — we have lots of stuff for them, and boots,” said Sharpe’s daughter, seven-year-old Avayah Sharpe-Perrault.

Donations at the GiveBack Edmonton Garage. Sarah Kraus / Global News

GiveBack Edmonton is always in need of volunteers. Heather MacLeod has been helping our for about a year now, after seeing a post on Facebook about making turkey sandwiches for the homeless.

“I love it, and they seem very very grateful,” she said.

Currently, the group is also short on kids clothing, winter wear, toiletries and food.

“We just need people to keep donating. We don’t ever want it to stop,” MacLeod said.

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Extra donations are taken to charitable groups across Edmonton, including WIN House, Kids Cottage, Hope Mission, the Herb Jamieson Centre, YESS, Women’s Shelters, Sport Central and Delton School.

Now, Sharpe and her daughters are doing better, and are actively paying it forward.

Sharpe said it’s important to teach her girls the impact one person can have.

“All this was was just an idea, and it became powerful,” she said.

Volunteer sorting donations. Sarah Kraus / Global News

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