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Chatham-Kent creating smiles for the homeless

Rachael Laidler of Creating Smiles Network, with t-shirts for her campaign to help the homeless. Photo Florin Marksteiner

By Greg Holden

World Homeless Awareness Day is October 10 and Chatham-Kent is taking part with a food and goods donations drive on that day.

Rachael Laidler, organizer of the Creating Smiles Network, is rallying local residents to give on October 10 at three drop-off locations. The kind of donations the group is looking for include: blankets, backpacks, coats, shoes, socks, food items that do not need cooking or a can opener, snack items, bottled water, juice boxes, toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, baby wipes, soap), hats, gloves, scarves, tarps, rain ponchos and cloth grocery bags.

Rather than give items directly, you can buy a butterfly necklace for $5 or a t-shirt for $10. Karen Faubert-Newman makes the necklaces and hopes to sell 200 for this campaign, with proceeds going to buying food and personal hygiene items for the campaign.. “The butterfly represents us helping the homeless grow their wings to help them fly”, said Faubert-Newman.

Butterfly necklaces by Karen Faubert-Newman

The items will be hand delivered by the group directly to the homeless on two dates, Saturday, November 9 in Chatham-Kent and on Sunday, November 10 in Toronto.

A recent study says that there are 1300 homeless people in Chatham-Kent, most of them are hidden from public view as they sleep on a friends couch. That study will be presented to municipal council on November 29.

Laidler was inspired by a YouTube video (shown below) that depicts two young men giving away items to homeless people. Laidler says she wanted to help people less fortunate after watching the video. The campaign has taken off locally, gathering support from all walks of life in Chatham-Kent. You can show you care by dropping off donated items on October 10 at:

  • Selectcore, 14 William Street North
  • Bowlerama, 100 Keil Drive South
  • The Voice, 84 Dover Street

A private residence in Wallaceburg is accepting donations at 1543 Elgin Street from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Donations will also be received on Monday and Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. Laidler also arranges for pick-ups of donated items via her Facebook group, where you can order a butterfly necklace as well.

Other drop-off sites are still being finalized. This story will be updated as new information comes in.

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