(Right) Maskwacis resident Chevi Rabbit along with a volunteer collecting blanket donations in Edmonton. Photo contributed

Gift of warmth: Maskwacis resident who lost cousin on the streets wanted to honour him by giving back

Maskwacis resident Chevi Rabbit was like Santa Claus this past weekend.

The former Red Deer College student did a blanket drive in Edmonton giving the gift of warmth just ahead of Christmas.

Wednesday Rabbit confirmed she and other volunteers donated about 108 jackets, mittens, toques and care packages with toiletries items to the Edmonton’s homeless population.

This past month Rabbit’s cousin, with drug addiction, died on Edmonton streets.

“I found it very tragic he passed away alone under some tragic circumstances and I thought I need to honour him,” she said.

As a result, Rabbit wanted to help out Edmonton shelters he relied upon.

The whole experience left Rabbit, Hate to Hope founder, feeling empowered.

Now she wants to make the drive an annual event. The hope is the blanket drive expands to other cities such as Red Deer and Calgary.

“Every small town, city, we all have homelessness issues, whether it’s Wetaskiwin, whether it’s Red Deer, whether it’s Edmonton, whether it’s Calgary,” she said.

While making the donations many of the people from the streets surrounded Rabbit and the volunteers to collect the items that were being given away. At one shelter stop, Rabbit saw 60 people who were homeless, at another there were about 50 to 60.

“It was sad that were that many people surrounding us for coats, but it was also empowering to give the gift of warmth,” she said, adding many of them didn’t have a warm coat on.

For the inaugural drive, Rabbit partnered with filmmaker Georgina Lightning, and other agencies such as the Aboriginal Professional Women’s Association in Edmonton and with the help from the business community, who donated the blankets.


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