Helping the homeless starts with the shoes, according to Will Chambers, chairman of the Parksville-based ShuGuy Ministries.
“It all started with a homeless guy walking in front of my car with the worst shoes I’ve ever seen,” he said of the inspirational moment two years ago that led to him founding the non-profit organization.
He was in Victoria two days before Christmas and he leapt to action. He bought a pair of shoes for the guy but didn’t find him again. Now he hopes to put shoes on every homeless person on Vancouver Island, starting at home in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
Chambers beams with excitement as he talks about the effort and wells up with tears as he tells of actually giving shoes to people who need them.
“One guy said ‘finally I won’t be late for work,'” he said, pointing out many of the people he’s already helped do work, but still can’t afford the basics.
Another guy he saw in McDonald’s told him he hadn’t had dry feet in four months.
“It all starts with the shoes, but as a registered nurse I can also recognize infections or help direct them to other health services,” he said, quickly adding that ShuGuy Ministries has a board and other volunteers.
“It’s a group effort, it’s not about me,” he said, adding that his daughters have become the self-appointed size-coordinators, sorting and sizing the donations.
The group has joined forces with Mustard Seed in Victoria and the local Manna Homeless Society and Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness and has big plans, including involvement in things like the Feb. 20 Coldest Night of the Year (https://coldestnightoftheyear.org/home).
They have already passed on 25 pairs of shoes and 200 pairs of galoshes, or ‘over-shoes’ locally and in the Victoria area.
He said that while they are looking for volunteers and donations of new or very gently used shoes, appropriate for the weather, tax deductible cash donations are the most effective. He said they have a great deal on shoes and can purchase custom sizes.
Chambers said they are currently launching a Go Fund Me campaign and Facebook page, all of which and more, including easy ways to donate or get involved are accessible through their website at www.shuguy.ca.
While their website is best, they can also be reached at email@example.com or by calling