Program donates requested items to less fortunate



Rafe Arnott/Metro Vancouver


Ian Woods, at the Yukon Shelter in Vancouver, is asking for clean socks and a cellphone in the Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List.


A pair of socks might have become the clichéd bad Christmas present, but for Vancouver’s homeless it’s the most requested gift on their wish list.

Ian Woods, 40, who has a room at Yukon Shelter in Vancouver, said clean, warm footwear makes a big difference during the cold, wet winter.

"Just getting something when you have nobody is a big thing," said Woods, who is one of 40 people at Yukon Shelter signed up as gift recipients with Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List.

The non-profit organization lets people donate requested gifts to homeless individuals, who open their presents on Christmas Day.

"It puts a lot of smiles on a lot of faces, let me tell you," said Woods, who is hunting for a job and has asked for a cellphone and calling card to help him get in touch with prospective employers.

A personal phone also doesn’t advertise the fact the job applicant is homeless.

Peter Fedos, program manager at Hyland House in Surrey, said bus tickets, underwear, toiletries and kids’ gifts are also in high demand.

"It’s really basic needs stuff," said Fedos. "They’re really humble."

Phil Grant, a co-ordinator with Homeless Partners, said the program is more personal than giving a monetary donation to a shelter, something both the gift givers and recipients appreciate.

"The homeless person feels that someone actually cares, and that they’re not invisible," he said.