'They have such rough lives': Nanaimo student's campaign to help homeless goes viral

By Spencer Sterritt
November 17, 2017 - 10:47am

Colin and Spencer O'Handley with the donation boxes you'll soon be seeing around Nanaimo this holiday season. Heather O'Handley/Facebook

NANAIMO — A donation campaign gathering socks and toques for Nanaimo's homeless has already gone above and beyond.

The campaign started Wednesday, Nov. 16 with a donation box outside Park Ave. Community School in south Nanaimo. Grade 7 student Colin O'Handley put the box out after researching homelessness with his mother Heather and seeing how people living on the streets are pushed aside.

“They have such rough lives during the winter, going through all the cold and not having all the clothing they need to stay warm,” O'Handley said.

A day later, the donation box at Park Ave. was nearly full, another one was at Heather's work and John Barsby Secondary School had reached out to put their own donation box out. Their advertisements were also widely circulated and gained traction on social media.

O'Handley said it fills him with joy to see the campaign he started be so warmly received by the community.

“It might be changing peoples' minds about homeless people and how they look at them,” he said.

His mother Heather O'Handley said the community response is overwhelming.

“It makes me pretty proud as a mom that he's only 11-years-old and he's so compassionate and he's working so hard on something that's really community driven.”

The original goal was 500 pairs of new socks and 300 toques, but Heather said with so much attention to the campaign they're now hoping to blow past that number.

Donations can be dropped off until Dec. 20. Once they're all collected, Colin and his brother Spencer will take the donations to homeless shelters around Nanaimo and advocacy groups from across the mid-Island area will likely drive to Nanaimo to pick some up as well.

Money can also be donated online by sending an email transfer to [email protected].


[email protected]

On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

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