Operation Snowsuit receives early Christmas gift
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN)'s Operation Snowsuit has received a massive pre-Christmas delivery courtesy of Bell Aliant. Pembroke Giant Tiger once more served as a warehouse for the operation. In the photo (left to right) are CPAN volunteer Brittany Lemaire, Bell technician Trevor Phanenhour, CPAN volunteer Debby Lemaire, Bell technician Marshall Sarr, Bell technician Chad Brand, Giant Tiger manager Paula Young, Giant Tiger manager Connie Cliche and CPAN administration assistant Michelle Rowe. Missing is Bell Aliant snowsuit co-ordinator Jay Pinkham.
To paraphrase Dean Martin, the weather outside might be turning frightful but thanks to the generosity of the community, children and teens will be ready for winter's might.
Over the past couple of weeks, technicians from Bell Aliant have been collecting donations from schools across Renfrew County. Their important mission ended on Tuesday when they arrived at Pembroke Giant Tiger to unload a truck and a trailer load worth of snowsuit.
Assisted by volunteers from the Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN) Operation Snowsuit, the technicians carried in bags full of boots, snow pants, coats, gloves and other winter clothing items. Technician Marshall Sarr said this is one of the biggest hauls they've taken in and they are happy to help out CPAN.
“We want to make sure the kids in the community stay warm,” said Sarr. “This year was probably one of the better years for pick-up.”
This year marks the 11th year that drivers with Bell have been vital participants in the effort to ensure Renfrew County kids aren't left out in the cold. While there wasn't an estimate of the entire load of snowsuits, organizers are hopeful they can fill the need. CPAN administration assistant Michelle Rowe said that so far 485 children have applied for the program, an increase of 22 per cent from the previous year. In 2016, they saw a 15 per cent hike in applications.
“Everything is going up and some families are living pay cheque to pay cheque,” said Rowe. “You want every child in the area to have proper winter gear especially with the severe winters we've had.”
CPAN finds that they are always scrambling for sizes 7, 8, 10, and 12 snowsuits, as well as suits large enough for teens up to the age of 17. However, Rowe said they appreciate the support the program has received thus far.
“The community has stepped up tremendously,” she added. “It is amazing to see that.”
Since being launched county-wide in 2005, Operation Snowsuit has successfully supplied winter clothing to children and youth in need. The program is intended to supplement other snowsuit programs which operate in the area, in order to help ensure no one is allowed to fall through the cracks. The not-for-profit organization is seeking is gently used or new winter clothing such as snowsuits, snow boots, hats and gloves. The clothing has to be in good repair and clean, as CPAN doesn’t have the resources to do that themselves.
For information on how to help or to apply for assistance please visit http://renfrewcountycpan.ca/operation-snowsuit/.