Mary-Jane Warshawski was slightly relieved when a buying trip prevented her from participating in the Couch Surfing Challenge two weeks ago.
But she wanted to meet the challenge some other way.
So Warshawski, who owns Coast Mountain Sports, wrote an e-mail to some of her suppliers asking for donations of warm winter clothes and offering to help out with some of the expenses and shipping.
That little e-mail saw some big donations pour in.
By the end of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, more than $40,000 worth of jackets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, gloves, tuques and clothes had poured in.
But it hasn’t stopped there.
Coast Mountain’s suppliers have continued to send the much-needed goods north and roughly $3,000 worth of additional clothing has arrived since.
“Because they know that I will send it in the right direction, they’re throwing in more and it’s just kind of appearing,” said Warshawski.
“It’s a good thing that I’ve got a really good receiver, because sometimes we order 10 tuques and we open the box to find 30 in there.”
The store had to put up little cash for shipping costs and, in some cases, was given huge discounts.
Mountain Hard Wear jackets that often cost well over $500 were let go for $75.
And struggling Whitehorse residents got a second helping of warm clothing last week, also thanks to Coast Mountain Sports.
Last Saturday, the store wrapped up its weeklong Share the Warmth promotion, which encourages customers to exchange their old coats.
Each old winter coat was worth $50 off the purchase of any new jacket in the store.
The old coats are then dry-cleaned for free by Qualita Cleaners and donated to the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.
This year the store collected 113 coats.
“We help encourage people to donate their old coats, it helps the community and we get people into our store,” said Warshawski.
“It’s a win-win situation for us.”
The Share the Warmth campaign also ran at Board Stiff and Sports Life, which Warshawski and her husband Craig Hougen also own.
But Warshawski hasn’t hit up the suppliers of those stores for donations yet, so there could be much more to come.
Warshawski hopes that other Whitehorse business owners decide to follow her lead.
“I do kind of want to toot my own horn because I’m pretty excited about what we did,” she said.
“But I also wanted to encourage people to try to help out – even if you think it’s only a little, a least it’s better than nothing.
“And you might be surprised, because, honestly I never expected such a huge response.”
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