Every year in BC the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB), and the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) team up to host the REALTORS Care Blanket Drive, and this year's drive is just around the corner, running from Monday, November 14 to Monday, November 21.
As usual, donations of blankets, sleeping bags, and warm clothes -- coats, jeans, pants, sweaters, scarves, mittens, hats, (unused) socks, (unused) underwear -- will be accepted at participating real estate offices across the Lower Mainland.
Donations will then be sorted before realtor volunteers deliver them to charities in organizations in their respective areas, where they will then be give to those who need it. (A full list of those organizations can be found here.)
In addition to the usual collection of donations, this year's blanket drive will also include an online fundraiser for three charities in BC the drive has partnered with: the Progressive Housing Society, Easter Seals House, and Covenant House. (The above charities will get the amount of your donation, minus bank and credit card fees charged to Charitable Impact. If you donate $5 or more, you will receive a receipt from Charitable Impact on behalf of the REALTORS Care Blanket Drive.)
The REALTORS Care Blanket Drive was started in 1994, after a group of realtors observed the homeless situation in Vancouver and wanted to do something about it. They sent out a call for blankets and clothing, and ended up helping an estimated 3,000 people experiencing homelessness.
Since then, the drive has grown to include over 18,000 Realtors across 100 real estate offices in the Lower Mainland and their donations have helped an estimated total of 450,000 people in need, and an average of 35,000 each year.
After the province experienced one of its warmest and driest Octobers on record, temperatures have now dropped dramatically, with temperatures at or below-zero and snowfall hitting parts of Metro Vancouver this past weekend.
"With cold temperatures and increased precipitation forecast for November, our partner charities expect blankets and warm clothing to be in high demand across the region," said Daniel John, Chair of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
That is indeed accurate. As the Union Gospel Mission previously told STOREYS, cold weather supplies have already been low, and the coldest times of the year are still ahead of us. Shelters across the Lower Mainland are already low on space or at capacity, and the Union Gospel Mission said they're coming to terms with the fact that they may have to turn away upwards of 20 people a night, come January.
When people do get turned away from shelters, though, they are often given cold-weather supplies to stay warm and dry, so donations like those the REALTORS Care Blanket Drive collect are critical and could keep those forced to live on the streets alive.