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Richmond firefighters help those in need

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 1:34 PST, Thu January 16, 2020

During the recent cold spell, many Richmondites may be wondering how they can help those living on the streets.

Richmond Fire-Rescue, partnering with North Vancouver-based organization Warming the Homeless, is handing out winter packages to those in need.

Each package contains a toque, socks, gloves, a rain poncho, and other cold weather items. Women’s packages also contain feminine hygiene products and other toiletries.

“The program got started through contacts in the North Vancouver fire department” explains Brian MacLeod, Richmond Fire-Rescue’s community relations officer.

MacLeod says a former Richmond firefighter, who now works in North Vancouver, mentioned Warming the Homeless to a friend still working in Richmond. Richmond firefighters were inspired.

The organization donated 40 packages to Richmond Fire-Rescue: 20 for men and 20 for women. According to MacLeod, the packages sat in a storage locker for about a week. Then he looked at the weather forecast.

“We have these things in storage, we should get them out. This is the week to get them out,” recalls MacLeod of his reaction to the forecasted drop in temperature. 

After getting permission to start distributing the packages, MacLeod explains that firefighters put the packages on most of their trucks. Staff were informed to give out the packages to anyone who looked like they were in need.

“As long as we have them for the whole winter, we’ll distribute them for the whole winter,” says MacLeod. 

Warming the Homeless was started in 2014 by husband and wife team Randy and Sahar. Although this is the first year Richmond Fire-Rescue has partnered with the organization, MacLeod is eager to continue the joint project.

“I hope we can do this every year,” MacLeod says, adding that the Richmond Firefighters Charitable Society is looking into options to continue supporting Warming the Homeless by making a donation back to them.

Those wanting to help can donate directly to Warming the Homeless on their website.

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