In 1995, staff and volunteers at the Mission Store astutely recognized an opportunity to meet a need in the community by providing warm clothing for children whose families may struggle to afford winter basics. They began working with the local school boards to deliver winter gear including hats, mitts, and socks to elementary schools. This initiative known as the Warm Hands – Warm Hearts Outreach Program turns 25 this year and continues to make an impact in our community. “We have helped up to 61 schools per month in London”, said Vikki who coordinates the program.
The clothing is donated by individuals, groups, and drives throughout the year. “We save them all year. If you drop off a winter hat in July, we will store it”, explained Burt, Store Manager. When stock begins to run low around December, the store team utilizes financial dontions to source enough items in high demand. This winter, ZucoraHome generously donated $1,700 for this purpose. “It’s hard to believe that there are children in our community that go to school without warm clothing”, said Brad Geddes, President & CEO of ZucoraHome. “The Warm Hands – Warm Hearts Outreach Program is aligned with our corporate values of supporting youth and creating a positive impact in our community. By doing this we hope that we can bring attention to this cause, inspire others to take action, and collectively meet the needs of school-aged children”.
Between November and February, the Mission Store van delivers the items to each school board which are then distributed to children by school staff who have trusting relationships with the students. They also make us aware of specific items needed to best meet the needs of the children. “Schools can ask for other items not regularly provided and we will accommodate as much as we can. Sometimes they ask for tops, underwear, and pants”, said Vikki.
Participating schools have expressed their gratitude of the program time and time again as Vikki receives heartfelt thank you notes and cards each year. A note received this year reads,“We wanted to express our sincere gratitude for the wonderful bundle of children’s clothing that arrived to our school last week. The items will certainly keep those little hands warm and your kindness has warmed our hearts”. Vikki and Burt hope for the program to continue helping every school that desires our support for many more years to come.
Written by Amy Bumbacco, Communications & PR Coordinator