Calgary police officer’s push to collect suits for men in need is thriving: ‘It’s been overwhelming’
A Calgary police officer says he knows first-hand the transformative impact of a suit being given to someone who has very little and now he wants to go beyond the call of duty and make a difference.
“I was responding to a panhandler call and [it] ended up [that] we had a great conversation,” Const. Derek Thistle says. “I remember saying, ‘Is there any work out there? Can’t you find a job?’ He said, ‘Look at me, who’s gonna hire me?’
“That stuck in the back of mind. Later, when I was cleaning out my closet, I had extra suits and thought a guy like that can benefit from this.”
Thistle put the call out to his colleagues to collect suits to be donated to men in need.
“I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I thought, ‘If I can get 10 suits, we are good, 50 and we are laughing.’ Now, we are well over 500 complete suits. It’s been overwhelming.”
Some of the suits will also be donated to The Calgary Dream Centre, an organization that aims to help men battling addiction and poverty. The suits will also be donated to new Canadians at the Centre for Newcomers.
For Const. Hal Quaidoo, giving up his suits marks a profound return to his roots. His parents came here from the west African nation of Ghana.
“Donating suits — personally, it was very humbling. When you’re hanging up that suit on the rack and thinking and reflecting about how this is going to help the next family, like my own who moved out here,” Quaidoo says.
Dylan Wlaz, a recovering addict and former Dream Centre client, was given a suit when he graduated from the program.
“When I first came in here and I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw,” Wlaz says. “Today, I look in the mirror and I can’t believe what I have achieved.”
Wlaz now works at the Dream Centre helping men just like him.
“Lots of guys look forward to that day. You see them when they graduate and get a new suit,” Wlaz says.
“Just seeing the looks on their face, you can’t explain it. It’s priceless.”
The organizer of the Calgary police suit drive hopes the officers’ gesture can symbolize what happens when humanity extends its hand.
“I want someone who puts a suit on to say, ‘People of Calgary care,'” Thistle says.
Suits are still being accepted at all Calgary police district offices until the end of the month.
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