Surrey volunteer Billie Semak helps load up donations to this year's Realtors Care Blanket Drive

Surrey volunteer Billie Semak helps load up donations to this year's Realtors Care Blanket Drive

2013 Realtors Care Blanket Drive a huge success

This year's charitable initiative provided warmth just in time, as cold snap hit Lower Mainland.

For dozens of local charities and the people they help, the Nov. 18-25 timing of this year’s Realtors Care Blanket Drive couldn’t have been better.

For the 19th year in a row, realtors collected enough donations of coats, blankets, sleeping bags and warm clothing to help more than 20,000 people as the mercury plummeted.

Surrey charities that benefitted (Surrey Memorial Hospital, Hyland House, NightShift Street Ministries, and Surrey Urban Mission) are very grateful for the support, particularly with the cold snap that hit immediately following the donation drive.

In Surrey, a total of 341 bags of donations were collected – an increase of 13 per cent compared to last year.

A regular beneficiary of the blanket drive is Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Patient Resource Department. Every year, the hospital receives winter coats to give to patients who need them.

“It’s really, really helpful. We could never have enough coats on hand without the Realtors Care Blanket Drive,” said Sharon Frizell, Surrey Memorial Hospital’s manager of volunteer resources. “Especially at this time of year, there are some people we care for who do not have adequate clothing for the cold weather. The Realtors Care initiative allows us to offer them a warm coat when they’re released so they are protected from the elements.”

The Dr. Peter Centre, one of Vancouver’s recipient blanket drive charities, offers health programs and long-term and supportive housing to individuals with HIV/AIDS requiring specialized care.

“With the cold snap, the donation of blankets, gloves, and warm clothing mean so much to our clients,” said Maxine Davis, executive director of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. “Some of the recipients have shared with us that their living conditions are very cold right now, so these items were put to immediate use.”

Volunteer realtors pick up, sort and deliver donations dropped off by colleagues, clients, the public, corporations, retailers, community groups and schools. The drop-off locations are real estate offices spread across the region, between Whistler and Hope.

Since 1994, the blanket drive has grown to become the largest collection of its kind in the Lower Mainland. Over the years, the program has assisted more than 225,000 people.

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Surrey North Delta Leader