Jodi Maher knows what it is like to lose everything, to have to rely on others to ensure she had a place to lay her head at night and to depend on the food bank.
“I lived at a friend’s place for a month until I could get back on my feet. I had to use the food bank and when there wasn’t much there on the shelves it really tugged on my heart strings for others that also needed the service and are trying to find that path forward to get back in a good spot,” she said.
It is one of the reasons she started taking more notice of people living on the streets of Penticton and decided she needed to help others.
“Everywhere I would go I would see homeless people and they looked cold and dishevelled with holes in their clothes. I went home and realized that I have a whole closet full of clothes and I don’t wear half of them. That was four years ago when I started collecting blankets and items to donate to whoever needed it. This past year I really put my heart into it and I am blown away by the response of our community,” she said.
She guesstimates she has collected 10 truck loads of items from the Fall of 2018 to date to donate to local organizations that help those in need. She has even hit the pavement herself to find homeless people to hand out clothing, toiletries or whatever was needed. Maher has received boxes of donations from the Ramada and Sandman of toiletries, toothbrushes from dentists and clothing from community members. All by just asking, whether that is in person or using social media to help spread the word.
Maher gives many of her donations to SOWINS, the Ooknakane Friendship Centre, Compass House and recently donated to the Monday Night Dinners program ran by community member’s out of Nanaimo Square.
Maher did not want any special attention on her for what she is doing, she said she is just being a good human being while teaching her two young children a valuable life lesson.
“My kids help sort bags and help when I am dropping stuff off to the organizations. My son, because he is old enough to ask questions about what we are doing, is learning that some people need help and that because we are a blessed family that has the time and love to give that we should do that. We live in a society where everyone has more than we need and no one should suffer. These are human beings and deserve to have clothes, food and shelter – no matter what issues they may be dealing with,” she said.
Maher said many organizations are in need of diapers, toiletries, summer footwear for men and new underwear for both men and women. She encourages those who want to donate to contact her through her Facebook profile or under her work profile Beautiful Surprises Okanagan.
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