Operation Warm Feet forecasts increased demand for 2021 campaign

Volunteers with Operation Warm Feet. Image provided by KCHC.

For more than 20 years, Operation Warm Feet (OWF) has been working to supply winter footwear to children and youth who need it, and this year was no exception.

The program, run by Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), has been providing children up to the age of 18 from low-income households with winter boots and accessories since 1999. So far the 2020 campaign has distributed almost 500 pairs of boots to youth throughout Kingston, despite the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID- 19, KCHC said in a release dated Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

OWF gratefully receives knitted goods and monetary donations from local organizations, businesses, and individuals in the community. According to the release, the United Way saw the need early on and became a huge supporter, providing 60% of the needed resources annually. Monetary donations are used to buy new boots at a reduced cost through long-time partner Downtown Giant Tiger (DT GT).

“People often take having proper footwear for granted, but for so many families it’s a constant worry” said Helen Mabberly, Manager, Family and Community Health at KCHC “Seeing the number of boots distributed grow year after year shows the generosity and compassion of the community.”

With many families struggling through tough financial times, the need for community-based programs is greater than ever, which is why the continued contributions from individuals and local businesses like DT GT are so important, KCHC said in the release. The pandemic presented several new challenges for residents of KFL&A, but OWF has worked hard to make sure cold feet aren’t among them.

Forecasting increases in demand, OWF has taken steps to ensure the health and safety of volunteers and boot recipients, according to the release. Unlike previous campaigns, OWF did not have a one-day pick-up for boots, but distributed boots through local elementary and high schools in Kingston. The program also removed the $2 “purchase with pride” cost, and gifted the boots during this time of hardship for our community families.

“Seeing the total amount of knitted and monetary donations this year brought tears to my eyes” said Stephanie Wheeler, Program Coordinator for Operation Warm Feet. “Donations are a significant part of what makes OWF possible. The more support we get the more children and families we can assist.”

OWF and KCHC would like to thank past, current and future donors for their ongoing support during these uncertain times. Fundraising efforts for the 2021 campaign have already started, and they are hoping to raise $12,000 to meet the ever-rising need for Warm Feet Smiles for our Kingston area children. For more information on how to make a tax-deductible donation to OWF, or to get involved, contact Stephaniew@kchc.ca.

About: Kingston Community Health Centres is a dynamic provider of integrated services that empower people and build communities. Together we see to create inclusive, resilient and healthy communities for all. We inspire each other to: be kind, celebrate diversity, collaborate, and innovate. Learn more at https://kchc.ca/

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