An annual program at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops, B.C., is helping the homeless start winter on the right foot.
Each year, near All Souls Day on Nov. 2, St. Paul’s puts out an appeal known as All Soles Day, calling members of the community to donate boots, shoes, and socks for the needy.
Footwear and warm clothing collected through the appeal are distributed through the cathedral’s overnight shelter program, Out of the Cold. The shelter operates from the basement of St. Paul’s every Wednesday and Sunday night, and runs for five months—Nov. 1 until March 31. On these nights, it provides beds and hot meals to approximately 35 local homeless residents, as well as distributing warm clothing and socks.
Those using the program “come with all sorts of clothing, good, bad, and ugly,” Dean Ken Gray says. “Part of our ministry is to help them with things such as sleeping bags, but also such things as heavy winter clothing, toques, gloves—and yes, a lot of socks and boots and shoes.”
St. Paul’s first began organizing All Soles Day approximately five years ago. Since then, the yearly outreach program has grown along with the shelter’s ministry. The initiative has expanded to include a summer program—Out of the Heat. Out of the Heat is a “mirror version” of Out of the Cold. It provides homeless residents with summer clothing, and a cool place to stay during sweltering summer days.
On or around All Soles Day—which this year is taking place on Sunday, Nov. 4—the cathedral will receive a myriad of warm winter clothing from the community.
“Some people will go and buy bulk socks,” Gray said. “Other people will donate lightly used stuff that they no longer have need for, or doesn’t fit anymore. In cases where persons have died, sometimes we get some of their clothes, outerwear.”
With All Soles Day marking the launch of its shelter season, St. Paul’s has special prayers and blessings for the occasion.
Bishop Barbara Andrews of the Territory of the People described the annual appeal as a “highlight each year for me.”
“I love to see the outpouring of community help with a large pile of warm boots and shoes for those who need some warmth in the cold weather months,” the bishop says.
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