Patricia Taylor and Debra Strut at the Salvation Army on Friday, Nov. 27, handing out winter boots and gift bags to those in need. Taylor says they'll be back until all her supplies are gone.(Mandy Moraes photo)

Parksville residents distribute gifts and winter boots in Salvation Army parking lot

‘I’m hoping to open the eyes of the community to realize that everybody has value’

Parksville’s Patricia Taylor has taken it upon herself to “show that one person can make a difference in a community.”

Taylor can be found mornings at the Salvation Army along the Alberni Highway distributing Christmas gift bags and winter boots to those in need. She plans to come back around mid-day when the soup kitchen has prepped meals until all her supplies are given out.

“My view on this is that all lives have value. And these people have value, too. I’m hoping to open the eyes of the community to realize that everybody has value.”

The only consideration the Salvation Army had with Taylor distributing gifts in their back parking lot was to ensure crowd control, she said.

She said that everyone was respectful about personal space in consideration to COVID, and that they were all ‘very gracious.’

READ MORE: COVID-19: Seeking shelter solution, Parksville’s homeless to sleep in graveyard

“Sometimes when I offer them boots, they might go ‘mine are good enough, maybe somebody else more in need could get them.’ So I was pretty impressed.”

Inside one of her gift bags recipients will find a toque, a pair of socks, gloves, hand warmers, a small bag of chocolates and a card.

Taylor has a history of working with people experiencing homelessness and addiction. Though not specifically trained for the line of work, she still felt the need to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of her friends.

In conjunction with the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church, Taylor was able to reach out to other members of her congregation and ask if they’d be willing to help.

“I started with 20 gift bags, and now we’ve got 115!” she said.

The church, Taylor said, was instrumental with her cause’s success as they allowed her to use their website and space for gift wrapping and prep. Another fortunate outcome of asking her church for assistance lead to two benefactors coming forward and offering to provide winter boots as well. Taylor collected 40 pairs of winter boots, 75 to 80 per cent of which are already tagged for those who provided their name and shoe size.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I’m just one person, what can I do?’ And I tell them, one person can do a lot.”

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