Langley realtors collected more than 250 bags of warm winter clothing and blankets last year. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley builders and realtors come to aid of less fortunate

Both business organizations are hosting a winter woolies drive to help people in need stay warm.

There are two initiatives being undertaken by local business organizations to help those in need in this community starting next week.

The first is the Realtors Care Blanket Drive, running from Nov. 14 to 21. The second is a Coats for Kids campaign being run by local builders and developers.

Realtors collecting

The first is the 23rd annual realtors effort, which kicks off next Thursday.

This is the largest and longest running blanket drive in the Lower Mainland, explained Gopal Sahota, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

“So many people in need, from Whistler to Hope, have received a blanket or warm clothing over the years through the Blanket Drive,” he said.

“Our donations are distributed directly to those who need it so please give what you can this year.”

In Langley specifically, this year’s blanket drive will directly benefit the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope, Ishtar Transition Housing Society, and Wagner Hills Ministry.

Last year alone, the Langley realtors collected approximately 250 bags of warm winter clothing and blankets, said Michael Gleboff.

That, he said, was one of the best year’s ever.

This year, they’re hoping to collect even more, noting that jackets, blankets, socks, clothing and shoes will be shared with Wagner Hills, while women’s and children’s clothing, as well as blankets will go to Ishtar, and blankets and warm clothing and coats will be shared with Gateway.

“They continue to do incredible work, and we’re really hoping to get them the resources they need,” he said of the three recipient organizations.

Since the Realtors Care initiative began in 1995, the program has helped provide warmth to more than 300,000 people. The drive involves realtors from throughout the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver area.

“The cold weather season is here earlier than normal, which only increases the need for donations,” interjected Jill Oudil, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president.

“We need the public’s support to help us meet this need again this year. The blanket drive is a local campaign that helps people in communities across the Lower Mainland.”

“The Blanket Drive gives us a chance to make a real impact on our communities,” added Sahota. “Donations stay in the area they’re collected – they go directly to our neighbours.”

The public can drop donations off at one of the more than 100 participating real estate offices across the Lower Mainland. Click here for a list of drop-off locations.

Items needed:

• Blankets or sleeping bags, gently used or new

• Warm clothing, coats

• Hats, gloves, scarves

• New socks and underwear

.

Builders help children

In a similar effort to the realtors, members of the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders’ Association have set up drop-off locations around Langley to collect lightly used and new coats for those in need – especially for kids.

For the 22nd year running, members of this organization – including several in Langley – are rallying friends, family, customers, and employees to donate to the cause – Coats for Kids.

More than just keeping a child warm, every coat donated warms the hearts of many people along the way, said Larry Clay, a residential Langley’s builder and president of the builders association.

READ: New building industry distinction bestowed on Langley builder

“The simple act of donating a coat to keep a child warm connects people contributing to a good cause. You can see the warmth and kindness shared between people as the coats are dropped-off and collected, and I think this is a reaction worth spreading,” Clay said.

Last year the response to Coats for Kids was “heartwarming” as Lower Mainland residents donated more than 3,600 gently used and new coats, scarves, gloves, blankets, and new toys for distribution to children of all ages.

This year’s campaign, which runs Nov. 14 to Dec. 1, will see 57 GVHBA member companies serving as drop-off locations in 13 municipalities – Langley among them.

In Langley, kids coats are being collected at:

Benchmark Homes Ltd. – #304 – 6360 202nd St.

Centra Construction Group – 20216 98th Ave.

Country Lumber Ltd. – 22538 Fraser Hwy.

Trail Appliances – #200 – 19888 Langley Bypass

Coats for teens are always in high demand, Clay said.

Even though some teens fit adult sizing, he noted the coats need to appeal to their age group. He added that hoodies are always a popular choice.

Buying new items for donations is also an option, along with donating scarves, hats, gloves, and new unwrapped toys (hockey sticks, soccer and basketballs, and art supplies are always a hit).

The clothing items will subsequently be distributed through the Lower Mainland and Surrey Christmas Bureaus.

“The needs are real, and clothing is often overlooked,” said Vancouver Christmas Bureau executive director Chris Bayliss.

“People think of toys and food around this time of year, but keeping kids warm is an essential need for every parent too; especially during the colder winter months,” he added, “watching the relief on a parent’s face who finds a size-appropriate coat for their child is a good feeling.”

The GVHBA members will come together to present all the donation collected this year during a special event at Santa’s workshop (a.k.a. Caesarstone Canada in Burnaby) on Friday, Dec. 1, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Those festivities include Santa arriving in his “excavating” sleigh, pulled by Bob Cats, the Southpointe Academy children’s choir, cookie decorating, and a hot chocolate bar.

For more information, visit their home builders’ website.

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