NORTH BAY -- With news that Redeemer Lutheran Church’s Operation Warmth program is cancelled this season because of COVID-19, a few North Bay agencies are stepping up to help.

For 24 years, Operation Warmth has been instrumental in collecting and distributing coats, hats, mittens, scarves, boots and more to those in need to stay warm.

As the weather turns colder, the Crisis Centre North Bay, Nipissing Mental Health Housing & Support Services and Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing wanted to step up and help.

They are encouraging people looking to donate gently used and clean winter coats and other warm clothing to send their donations to Rebuilt Resources.

Rebuilt Resources supports the agencies' clients by providing vouchers that can be redeemed for needed items.

“Winter apparel is a basic necessity and is absolutely essential to one’s well-being,” said Mary Davis, chief executive officer of Nipissing Mental Health Housing & Support Services. "Being underdressed for freezing temperatures creates the real risk of frostbite and hypothermia, which can be life-threatening.”

The Crisis Centre, NMHHSS and LIPI are thanking Rev. Gerald Slote and the volunteers at the church who have dedicated countless hours toward Operation Warmth over the years.

"No one should be faced with the difficult choice between putting food on the table or warm clothes on their back,” said LIPI executive director Lana Mitchell. “We look forward to the time when this pandemic ends and Redeemer Lutheran can resume this critical district service.”

Clothing donations can be dropped off at Rebuilt Resources, 1356 Regina St., North Bay, during regular store hours. Rebuilt Resources asks that donated items be in usable or clean condition.

"Our community has a big heart. People have been telling us they want to find a way to support the less fortunate by providing coats and warm clothing," said Sue Rinneard, executive director of the Crisis Centre.

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