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Couple opens hearts to Vernon’s homeless

Special Christmas dinner planned to boost weekly meals provided to those most in need
Packman Opens Hearts serves meals to those in need every Monday evening in Vernon and is planning an even bigger dinner Dec. 21. (Packmans Opens Hearts photo)

COVID may have cancelled a lot of things, but it’s not stopping a local couple from opening their hearts to the homeless.

Tracey Griffin and her husband Jimmy Miller are the founders of Packman Opens Hearts in Vernon. They go out every Monday evening and park in the Upper Room Mission Boutique parking lot at 8 p.m. and set up with food for those who are hungry or just down on their luck. They also provide clothes, gloves, scarves, toques, personal hygiene products and more.

The couple plans to serve an even bigger spread Monday, Dec. 21 with a full hot turkey dinner.

“Along with gifts for everyone, I heard from the North Pole that Santa just might be making an appearance,” Griffin said.

The couple, who own Packman Moving and Labour Services, started opening their hearts a little over a year ago.

“It was a Sunday and we heard the forecast, it was supposed to be -19 the following day. Jimmy and I decided right then that we would go out the next day and that is what we did!”

They picked up a big coffee urn and filled it with hot chocolate and made some sandwiches and goodies and away they went. And they haven’t stopped.

“We love what we do. A great feeling knowing we are doing our best to help this situation,” Griffin said.

“We will continue to do this for as long as their are people on the street. This is part of our life now.”

The dinners are financed through donations, fundraising, and from their own pockets.

Vernon residents may have seen, or supported, a couple of recent Krispy Kreme doughnut sales at the old Canadian Tire parking lot. Those were in support of Packman Opens Hearts.

For those who missed the fundraisers, support is always needed in the form of monetary donations or items to keep those on the street warm and fed. Warm clothing, blankets, cans of coffee, hot chocolate, granola bars, sugar and creamer are a few of the items needed.

Sweet Caroline’s Bakery donates bread to the weekly dinners.

For the upcoming Christmas dinner, Packman Opens Hearts is expecting about 50 people to come by.

Therefore they are in need of a few extra items for the gift bags such as mandarin oranges, candy canes, Christmas candy, gloves, scarves, hand sanitizers, masks, hand warmers and socks.

“We are so excited every Monday to go out but super excited for Christmas dinner,” Griffin said.

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Daisy the duck (Nadine Langford) poses with a customer while her dad Rick Parker gets change at one of the Krispy Kreme doughnut sales in November, raising funds to help feed the homeless in Vernon. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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