Amanda Stewart at Valley Hemp Co. on Main Street sorts through jackets that were dropped off on the free rack outside the store. Kristi Patton/Western News

Downtown business brings warmth to those in need

Penticton business offers a free rack outside their store for those in need of a winter jacket

Those in need of a winter jacket get a heck of a deal off Amanda Stewart’s coat rack outside her business on Main Street — free.

Since setting up the free rack for those in need in front of Valley Hemp Co. in the 300-block of Main Street late last week, 20 jackets have already found new bodies to keep warm.

“I saw another store had done it and posted it on Facebook and I thought that was great. We made up a sign just like the one they had and posted it up,” said Stewart. “We have a clothing rack outside during the summer usually for sale clothing, dresses and stuff like that. It is off-season so leaving the rack out there seemed pointless but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to have a free rack out there for the next few months.”

Stewart said it is perfect timing as people are bringing out their winter wardrobe and may have jackets or hoodies that they will not wear this season that are still in good condition. She said the rack will be outside the store 24-7, so anytime someone feels like it they can pick through whatever is there.

“A couple people have come in and asked if it is OK for them to take a jacket and we told them to go right ahead. It is pretty anonymous because our front window is covered up to see outside when you are in the store. I think people really like that. You don’t have to approach anyone and identify yourself as a person in need. You can flip through and grab one.”

Stewart feels that with the vacancy rate so low and rents so high that it is a struggle for more people on the fringes than ever to not only cover the cost of accommodation but to get everyday items they need.

“My friend runs the Monday night free dinners for people in need downtown and I went over there for the first time and I was astounded that I didn’t recognize any of them. You think you know most of the homeless people, especially working downtown, but there was 20-25 people there that I didn’t recognize.”

Anyone looking to donate an item can drop by the store and hang it up at anytime.

“I think having even just little ways to give back, helps to bring a lot of community feeling to everybody.”

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