ASAP: Blanket Drive for the homeless at Oppenheimer Park

AMNEET AULAKH
VANCOUVER DESI

It’s Saturday morning and pouring, so I check my iPhone for the weather and the temperature outside is -1 C, with a forecast of freezing rain. I had committed to being out at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside to hand out blankets on behalf of the Association of South Asian Professionals’ (ASAP) fourth annual blanket drive.

As I sat on my couch, I realized that the homeless are out in this weather and are cold and hungry. And I am debating being out in freezing rain for an hour or two.  The reality of the circumstances hit me. I had immense gratitude for where I was and how my circumstances have allowed and supported me to be where I am today. People who are homeless have circumstances that have their life be the way it is.

It was a cold and windy morning Dec. 15 and there were 15 of us at Oppenheimer Park at 11 a.m. standing near a truck full of blankets.  Members of ASAP and the families and friends of Dave Gadhia and David Sidoo, who donated 300 blankets, were gathered to give out toques and blankets.

The lineup of people waiting for a blanket was at least a mile long – women and men of all ages, soaking wet, eagerly awaiting their turn.

We served coffee and snacks (thanks to Tim Horton’s for the donation) as people waited their turn. Most folks expressed how much they needed the blanket and how it will keep them warm at night. The phrases “Thank You” and “Merry Christmas” were filled with gratitude.

ASAP partners with Donna Crocker from Friendship Providers in Action a few times a year to hold Hot Dog Day for the Homeless during the summer and our Blanket Drive during the winter months.  By raising awareness, ASAP hopes others will join in to make a meaningful difference in the lives of approximately 2,300 homeless people in Vancouver.

If you are interested in joining ASAP and making a contribution to your community, please contact me.

Amneet Aulakh volunteers with the Association of South Asian Professionals and is a mentorship committee co-chair. She works as a Clinical Pharmacist Specialist. Follow her on twitter @mirrordoor.  She can be reached by email at amneet.aulakh@yahoo.com

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