Donations pile up for annual Wrapped up for Holidays campaign

Parkland ambulance, CTV, Gateway Mall partner to make the event happen

The 5th annual Wrapped up for the Holidays campaign concluded on Wednesday with dozens of donations stuffed into vehicles on their way to new homes. 
The campaign is put together by Parkland Ambulance, CTV and Gateway Mall. 
This year, residents were asked to drop off items at Parkland or at Gateway Mall in a bin near the food court. The items will be distributed through YWCA programs.
Parkland director of public affairs, Lyle Karasiuk, said blankets, bedding, coats, boots, and mittens were among the many items collected for this campaign.  
Those items are all needed, said YWCA Stepping Stones shelter supervisor Tonya Kleinert. 
“Mitts are a big one. I don’t know if they get lost on a regular basis but we’re always handing out mitts and toques,” she explained.
The Stepping Stones shelter can sleep up to 20 people. Kleinert says the shelter, which is located on Exhibition grounds, is full every night.  Kleinert explained they have to send people away when they’re full to mobile crisis or elsewhere and it’s nice to be able to have blankets to give out. 
She added the YWCA is also often in need of hygiene products, something they often give out as well.
Kleinert said the YWCA is appreciative of the donation. 
“We have so many people in need and it’s really wonderful that our community is willing to give back to them,” she said. 
Despite challenges with COVID-19, Kleinert explained that donations are still coming in. 
“Just as I think I’m going to need to go out and do some shopping, buy some stuff, we get another big donation. It’s just wonderful to give to our clients throughout all of our programs.” 
Kleinert said this campaign’s donation is likely the third big donation the YWCA has received this year. She said the YWCA will go through everything and determine what programs need it most. 
This year’s donation pile is pretty average compared to previous years, Karasiuk said. 
“These are not average times and we’re so grateful that once again the community has stepped up. Their generosity never ceases to amaze me.”
Karasiuk explained that if residents are doing some house cleaning and decluttering over the next few months or summer, to call Parkland and see if they can drop it off for the next campaign. 
“We’re happy to find some storage space within our facility and next Christmas we’ll start all over again,” he said. 
Karasiuk said the YWCA is a good fit for the donation campaign because of their community presence, and support for people experiencing homelessness. 
“They’re the way we can reach out in the best way to support those many people who need an extra hand up. We’re happy to be part of that and do what we can to support them in so many ways.”