Helping the homeless survive winter

By: Gerry Rucchin
November 29, 2018

Amberly Charette has collected items to create survival kits for the homeless in London. She will be buying all of the items for the kits and distributing them in December. (Photo: Laura Iannantuono)

Amberly Charette has collected items to create survival kits for the homeless in London. She will be buying all of the items for the kits and distributing them in December. (Photo: Laura Iannantuono)

Putting faith into action. That’s how one student is tackling the homeless problem in London.

Second-year teacher candidate Amberly Charette has collected items to create survival kits for the homeless.

The 23-year old collected items and raised over $1,375. Every dollar donated will go towards buying products for survival kits.

“It’s been an amazing response,” said Charette. “I didn’t set a goal because I didn’t want to feel let down if the community didn’t respond. But, any penny I received was a penny more than I had before. I even had a friend who knitted a few hats and gave them to me.”

For the past week, she’s been at the Faculty of Education cafeteria collecting:

  • Toques, gloves, mittens, scarves and coats
  • Blankets
  • First aid items
  • Deodorant, feminine products, hairbrush and hair elastics
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and hand sanitizer
  • Socks
  • Cereal, granola bars and fruit cups

Religious and non-religious cards will also be included in the kits. Students were invited to write inspirational words.

“They key is for the homeless to know that people are thinking about them,” said Charette.

Some kits will be donated to ‘Just a Bunch of Friends’ – an organization that helps the homeless – while Charette and her fellow teacher candidates will start distributing the remaining kits to the homeless in downtown London. If there are any kits leftover, she will deliver them to surrounding areas.

Besides the Faculty of Education, Charette also solicited donations from students in the University Community Centre and from the engineering and nursing faculties.

“I feel so humbled that so many people have put their trust in me,” she said.

Charette’s faith inspired her to help. After finishing her practicum in October, Charette had a lighter workload and she wanted to experience the motivation she had during her practicum.

“I woke up at four in the morning one Saturday and I had this epiphany that I wanted to help the homeless,” she said.

She began brainstorming ideas and at church the following Sunday, she realized she needed to help them.  

The next day, she went to Dollarama to look for socks. When an employee learned from Charette the socks were for the homeless, the employee told her about the organization, ‘Just a Bunch of Friends.’

This is the first year Charette is collecting items to distribute. She’s trying to provide a little warmth for those in need during the winter season.

“I don’t like the cold but when I get cold, I go inside. I take it for granted,” she said. “No one deserves to be homeless.”