There's no official homeless count this year, but there's still Project Homeless Connect and volunteers are still needed to hand out backpacks of necessities to those living without a roof.
ASK Wellness outreach worker Ken Salter said Monday he's holding a volunteer training session Thursday at 5 p.m. at ASK's offices at 433 Tranquille Rd.
"We're not doing an actual count this year. But we'll be out. It's the Homeless Connect Project this year. So we're going to concentrate on getting out on the riverbanks and finding the people who aren't hooked up with services," he said.
Riverbanks and back alleys will be the target areas. Volunteers can give an hour or two, or an entire day — Salter will allocate backpacks and locations accordingly.
"We'll divide up according to time availability," he said.
Backpacks will contain hygiene products and more donations of bags and items like toothpaste and toothbrushes are needed, he said.
Also, he'd like to throw in cold-weather items like toques, scarves, gloves, mitts and socks, so donations of those things are also welcomed.
Project Homeless Connect is a free-of-charge event that invites anyone from the community to take part. It starts on Wednesday, Oct. 16, with local films and discussion at the downtown Paramount Landmark theatre from 7 to 9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there's a mature warning for viewers.
On screen will be Bevel Up, a movie that follows B.C. Centre for Disease Control street nurses in Vancouver's Downtown East Side, along with Community Roots, that features Dr. Holly Schweiger who provides dental care at the New Life Mission, and Youth Against Youth Homelessness, a local film about a group of youth taking action against young people being homeless in Kamloops.
There is no admission, donations of hygiene products, clothing and non-perishable food are gratefully accepted.
Then, on Friday, Oct. 18, the big event occurs at Spirit Square at MacKenzie Avenue and Yew Street from noon to 5 p.m.
There's a free barbecue provided by the Valleyview Overlanders Lions Club, live music by Full of Excuses, and information available from a long list of community agencies, including ASK Wellness, Phoenix Centre, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Nicola Eye Care, B.C. Native Women's Association, Canadian Mental Health Association and others.
Anyone interested in helping distribute backpacks can show up Thursday or, for more information, contact Salter at 250-851-5949. Donations can be dropped off at ASK Wellness.