Edmonton is home to a number of generous and hard-working organizations and groups with a common goal: to end homelessness. Here at NextGen, we want to showcase the dedication of initiatives around Edmonton and supply our readers with information on how they can get involved around the community and help put an end to homelessness
Originally running under the title of 'OpXmas', the Op: Help the Less Fortunate Street Store first popped up in December of 2013. Organizers and volunteers gathered all the clothing and donations they could find and, for two weekends before Christmas in -30 degree weather, set up their parking lot store in Edmonton's inner city. After seeing such a large turnout at the Christmas event, organizers such as Skye decided the Street Store needed to happen throughout the year: "We realized a much larger need than once a year, so it is now done every two months. We gather our goodies for our friends on the streets... we then pack up and go to our street party to hang out with our friends."
The grass roots group's largest event fed and clothed nearly 500 Edmontonians in need. From providing clothing for all shapes and sizes, to filling hungry bellies, to cutting hair, Op: Help the Less Fortunate is a charming and humble event that impacts the lives of Edmontonians in desperate need of assistance. Additionally, it serves as a powerful awakening for volunteers and opens their eyes to the hardships so many in our city face.
Organizers of the event are ecstatic that the Street Store has gained enough momentum to continue throughout the year and are always looking for more help at their events.
"Our group of volunteers come from all walks of life, the young and the old with one common goal: to help those in need within our community by direct action. Volunteers are asked to bring whatever they can to the event even if it's only a smile or a listening ear, it all adds up" (Care, Op: Help the Less Fortunate).
The next event will be taking place July 10. There are numerous volunteer spots waiting to be filled, such as sandwich makers, bakers, some muscle to help unload trucks, friendly faces to strike up conversation, and many more.
The Street Store is also in need of various donation items such as:
- Backpacks in good condition
- New underwear/socks
- Gift cards for food/toiletries
- Toiletries (ie. tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo and conditioner, body or bar soap, deodorant, razors, and shaving cream)
- Blankets/sleeping bags
- Non-perishable snacks
- Bottled water
Even if you do not have the means to donate, what you do have to offer is your time and your heart. The Street Store is powered by Edmontonians with a passion for helping those in need and with the support of volunteers, will continue to grow and reach hundreds of vulnerable Edmontonians.
"I encourage anyone and everyone to come out at least once, see what we keep going on about. It truly is a life-changing experience. Be kind to those that you meet on the streets; you do not know why they are there till you actually take the time to talk to them. Be kind to people — you may be the only one who is. "
- Skye, Op: Help the Less Fortunate - Anonymous Edmonton
For more information on donations and how to get involved:
Photos provided by Op: Help the Less Fortunate - Anonymous Edmonton