Community

A message of warmth for those in need

White Rock resident Angeline Marta (left) hands out a bag of clothing to a woman at Main and Hastings in Vancouver. Marta spent a day earlier this month handing out warm clothing, chocolate and inspirational messages to homeless people on the Downtown Eastside.  - Alex Wilks photo
White Rock resident Angeline Marta (left) hands out a bag of clothing to a woman at Main and Hastings in Vancouver. Marta spent a day earlier this month handing out warm clothing, chocolate and inspirational messages to homeless people on the Downtown Eastside.
— image credit: Alex Wilks photo

Alex Wilks
Special to Peace Arch News

Angeline Marta’s New Year’s resolution was a simple one: to make the homeless feel loved.

The 19-year-old White Rock woman spent the early days of 2014 gathering used jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves to give to the homeless population in the Downtown Eastside, who would need the extra layers to brave the cold winter nights on the streets.

Each item was wrapped up in a plastic bag and tied together with a chocolate and a piece of paper with an inspiring quote to spur change.

“Everyone should get out and help people who are less fortunate and appreciate how lucky we are to not be in their circumstances… to show them that people want to help as much as possible,” Marta said.

The Semiahmoo Secondary grad spent most of Jan. 10 standing on the trash-strewn corner of Main and Hastings streets outside of the Carnegie Community Centre – where a number of homeless people would pass – giving out the clothing items.

After spotting Marta in the high-traffic area – located in what is known Canada’s poorest postal code – former drug addict Pat Myers, 56, was intrigued by the teenager.

Myers, who noted she has been clean for 10 years now, frequently searches the busy Vancouver stretch for an old friend of hers whom she met in the ’90s.

She described the area as a “wasteland,” and added that while the concept of giving clothing to the homeless is a good idea, the area is not the best place to spur change.

“It will never be changed. It’s a drug corner. I know personally and I spent years of my life down here,” she said. “People come to this corner to do drug deals and start fights.”

They do not recognize a good deed being done, she noted.

Marta’s experience, at least in part, proved Meyers’ point. She would approach individuals, asking “Did you need any clothes?” Some responded that they could use a sweater or maybe a pair of gloves, but others seemed disinterested or unhappy with the selection.

“I figured people would be a lot less picky, she said. “They would flock over and see what I had and ask for different colours.

“I kind of wish that they would make more of an effort to not be homeless. Most were able-bodied individuals. The ones that are non-able bodied should participate in a positive hobby at the very least.”

Myers and a few others, at least, expressed appreciation for the efforts, and Marta said that was all that mattered to her – the others were just kinks in her efforts to share kindness.

After two hours of partial success, Marta donated her leftover clothing to the Safe Injection Site on East Hastings, a place that houses recovering addicts.

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