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Kirk's Project A free clothing donation spot on Richmond Street, London

Story and photography by: Nina Rafeek

Kirk Harper and his friends are doing their small part to help those in need of some relief from the cold in London, Ontario.

On Saturday, December 9th at around 4 p.m., there were half dozen men across the street standing behind seven fold out picnic tables full of winter clothes. They were handing out free winter clothing and hot soup to people who stopped at their tables on Richmond Street, south of Dundas.

Lea and his son (front)

“We’re just a bunch of friends and we decided to get together just to collect as many clothes from as many generous people as we could and just giving them out to street people. People who need, people who want to get warm" - Harper

Kirk Harper organizing the clothing table

Last year, Harper and his friend Dave, owner of NYC Stylz Clothing on 394 Richmond St., decided to get their friends and family together and give out clothes to anyone in need of a warm piece of clothing for the winter. They set up four tables. People passing by took an article or two of clothing with gratitude. Today, through continuous donations and help from family, friends and friends of friends, Harper has seven tables full of winter boots, jackets and hats, hoodies, scarves, gloves, jeans long underwear, socks, blankets and more.

Throughout the day, strangers were coming to the table and dropping off bags of clothing. “People just kept bringing bags and bags and bags and we’re just setting them out on the table and giving them away," said Harper.

Lea helping a passerby select some items

"It takes nothing to help somebody" - Harper

Today, they have had over a dozen volunteers come out to help. One of them is Marcia White, used one of the tables to cook a pot of homemade chicken soup.

White handing a bowl of soup to a passerby

Marcia White met Kirk Harper at the community church. "He decided that he wanted to do this and we said, 'sure'," she said. White says that there has been a great response from the community. "They like to have the soup to warm their bellies," said White

Marcia White and her husband

A passerby warming up with a cup of White's soup

Another passerby checking out the clothing

Friends showing some love at the table

Kevin Buckley a.k.a Jux Cain is a rapper and assistant football coach for the Western Jr. Mustangs. He is also the operations manager for another local charity called "Feed the Streets". He knows Kirk's friend Dave who helped start the project. He brought his son Braxton, 6, to come out and help hand out turkey, ham and tuna sandwiches at the event as well as some fruit and small snacks. “It makes me feel great as a dad to see the long lasting traditions that my father and my grandfather instilled down the food chain," said Buckley.

Buckley a.k.a. Jux Cain and son Braxton, 6 handing out snacks (left) and taking a soup break (right)

"It is our duty as humans to look out for each other" - Buckley

While poverty is being reduced in the City of London, it still remains a problem (London.ca). In 2010, 3,044 families visited the London Food Bank every month, which is a 28.5% increase from 2001 (Source: London Food Bank). At 22.2 percent, London has third highest rate of child poverty in Canada. The national percentage is 17 percent (Statistics Canada).

A couple walking away with some items from Harper's table

"We have gotten a lot of smiles, a lot of 'Thank you''s and a lot of 'Merry Christmas' from people who have stopped by," said Harper. Kirk and his gang of good Samaritans will be back on the same corner next week on Saturday afternoon. Be sure to stop by and donate whatever you can, or just stop by for a warm cup of Marcia's soup.

Peace!

Created By
Nina Rafeek
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Credits:

Nina Rafeek

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