Heavy snowfall and temperatures well below zero have made for an unseasonably cold fall in Lethbridge, and some organizations in the city have been left floundering for enough supplies to help those in need stay warm.
Julie Kissick — founder of Streets Alive Mission, a not-for-profit organization in Lethbridge that helps support the city’s vulnerable population — said the recent cold snap has left the organization short of many essentials.
“It’s so early in the season, and we ran out of gloves right away,” Kissick said Tuesday.
“We’re almost out of toques and hats, we’re out of hoodies, we’re out of sweatshirts and things we can layer them in, and we’re almost out of jeans again.
“We had summer and now we’ve gone straight into winter. We’re just trying to warm up the people, but we are just so short of supplies.”
Kissick said each year, Streets Alive hands out around 7,000 pairs of socks and almost 1,500 pairs of gloves to those in need.
However, after September’s storm coated the city in almost 60 centimetres of snow, temperatures have remained low, prompting a much higher need than usual in recent weeks.
“Nobody was thinking about gloves and scarves and all that,” Kissick said.
“But when that horrible storm hit a month ago… it just wiped us out.”
Kissick added the constant shifts in temperature create further problems for Lethbridge’s homeless population.
“They don’t have a place to put their clothing,” she explained.
“So, when it gets to 9 C, like it’s supposed to reach on Friday, then they end up losing some of their things and we have to re-clothe them and re-glove them, so it’s a challenge.”
With more snow in the forecast, Kissick said donations are desperately needed to keep Lethbridge’s vulnerable population safe and warm.
“We have seen frostbite, and we don’t want anyone to get to that point,” she said.
“We want to be able to make sure that their hands, feet and their bodies are nice and warm.”
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Another not-for-profit organization in Lethbridge, My City Care, also offers supplies to those in need.
Carol Smith, office manager of the organization, said they, too, have experienced mass shortages over the last three weeks, with many even asking for help accessing food services in the city.
“We’ve had more and more people asking for something to eat,” Smith said.
“It’s so cold for them to even walk down to the soup kitchen in this weather.”