Operation Snowsuit well underway, 570 youth in need of warm gear

Group of people standing behind garbage bags full of winter clothes, racks of clothes in background
Bags containing snowsuits, hats, boots, scarves, and mittens for the Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network’s Operation Snowsuit were delivered to Giant Tiger on Jan. 8 where they were sorted for distribution to some of the approximately 570 youngsters in need. Helping with the process are, from left, Trevor Phanenhour from Bell Canada, CPAN Volunteer Braeden Troutman, Jay Pinkham from Bell Canada, CPAN Volunteers Janice Yaraskovitch, Dave Yaraskovitch, Aila Klimtschuck, Jeremy Paplinskie and Francesca Alexanian, Chantal Malone from Giant Tiger, CPAN Executive Director Lyn Smith, and from Giant Tiger Bonnie Cliche and Paula Young. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Two people waiting to walk on to truck trailer, one person walks down ramp carrying large bags
Emptying the truck of its snowsuits are Trevor Phanenhour and Jay Pinkham from Bell Canada as well as Children Poverty Action Network (CPAN) volunteer Braeden Troutman. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

With about 570 children and youth registered for support from Operation Snowsuit, the Renfrew County Children Poverty Action Network (CPAN) has been working tirelessly soliciting donations of winter clothing.

Youngsters without appropriate winter wear cannot play outside with friends in the winter, or spend much time in the cold weather without risk.

“We have long and severe winters here in Canada,” said CPAN Executive Director Lyn Smith, “and every child deserves to be warm and dry. It doesn’t matter how much the parents make.”

Many of her prayers were answered with a delivery of winter gear, collected from schools across Renfrew County.

A Bell Canada truck filled to the brim dropped off its cargo at Giant Tiger on Jan. 8. There, CPAN volunteers and staff members helped unload the bounty of items into the warehouse to sort them by size.

The suits and accessories that are new, or gently used, in good repair and clean are then be distributed to the growing number of children and teens in need of warm clothing.

CPAN Volunteer Aila Klimtschuck has been helping out for the past two and a half years. She has the time, dedication and desire to help out the youngsters affected by poverty within the county.

“A lot of kids have nothing,” she said. “The warmer the clothes that they get, the better.”

Agreeing with her is Jay Pinkham, a Central Office Technician for Bell Canada.

He and his coworkers have been picking up the snowsuits, hats, mittens, boots, and scarves, stopping in at schools when they pass by.

“There are a lot of underprivileged kids in Renfrew County and I think it is a necessity for winters that they have warm clothing,” he said. “We are basically just trying to do our part.”

Though he hasn’t counted the number of donated items, eyeing the contents of his 6’ by 10’ truck, he is confident that this year has been one of the more bountiful.

This generosity is critical for CPAN as the need has been climbing every year with about 100 more names on the list this year than 2018.

With nearly 600 youth needing warm clothing, it can be difficult to meet the demand.

Currently CPAN is looking for size 8, 12, 13 and 14 as well as adult sizes for teenagers, though any size is welcome. Monetary donations are also accepted.

“We don’t just want children and toddler sizes, we want the full gambit,” said Smith.

A lot of the orders have been filled already, but Smith is always looking for contributions.

“We may be small in manpower but we are big in programming,” said Smith. “We wouldn’t be able to all this without donations and volunteers. The community is really who helps us run all of our programs at CPAN.

Details about Operation Snowsuit can be found at renfrewcountycpan.ca/operation-snowsuit.