It’s a fairly typical day at Working Gear Clothing Society. Unemployed men, referred to the non-profit, arrive at appointed times to be fitted for work-appropriate attire needed to obtain work. The society provides suits and construction gear including steel toe boots free of charge to work ready men.
“Our steel toe boots are always in high demand and they are the first to go when men have a fitting,”says Working Gear Board Member Lani Johnson. “On average a new pair of boots can set a man back close to $200 and that is just not affordable for men on welfare or social assistance and needing gear.”
This fall Working Gear Clothing Society launched a campaign called “No Small Feet” in the hopes of raising 400 pairs of steel toe boots by the end of this year. The drive caught the attention of CBC radio’s Early Edition who did a feature on a Working Gear client who was unable to find any boots in his size. He left empty handed.
The news story was heard by Gail McQuhae of Newlands Systems – a division of Accent Stainless Steel Manufacturing in Abbotsford. McQuhae knew immediately that she and her team of welders and support staff could help this specific cause. She says, “This was a tangible way in which our team could help out men less fortunate.” Newlands Systems later donated close to 100 pairs of boots in either good or perfect condition.
“We are thrilled by the support of Accent Stainless Steel Manufacturing,” says Johnson. “When we launch a campaign we definitely see a rise in donations but we seldom see such a large contribution from one organization. We service so many men that donations of boots go out the door as quickly as they come in.”
Johnson shares that it’s because of business organizations like Accent that have kept Working Gear Clothing Society’s doors open. Now the non-profit is reaching out to the business community in the hopes of finding partners that will be able to help support on an on-going basis with much needed boots. Earlier this year the small non-profit, run completely by volunteers recently attracted the attention of WorkSafeBC. The company is now partnering with the non-profit to ensure work-ready men obtain functional clothing to attend an interview and to keep them safe on work sites.