John Douglas, left, of Port Alberni Shelter Society joins Blanket BC co-founder Gregory Ould, his wife Fumika and seven-month-old daughter Zoe in front of Our Home on Eighth on Feb. 19, 2021. The Oulds donated blankets and toques to the shelter as part of a Vancouver Island tour. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

John Douglas, left, of Port Alberni Shelter Society joins Blanket BC co-founder Gregory Ould, his wife Fumika and seven-month-old daughter Zoe in front of Our Home on Eighth on Feb. 19, 2021. The Oulds donated blankets and toques to the shelter as part of a Vancouver Island tour. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Gregory Ould’s mission to share the warmth of British Columbia began when he walked out of a movie theatre 15 years ago and encountered a person settling in on the sidewalk for the night.

“I asked one question,” Ould said during a recent visit as he grabbed clean, rolled up blankets from the floor of his minivan to donate to the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

” I said, ‘what can I do to help?’ He said ‘I could use a blanket to survive the night.’ It was that statement that floored me.”

That night spurred the formation of Blanket BC: a non-profit organization that collects and distributes blankets and warm clothing to shelter programs and families in need. It also raises awareness of homelessness, poverty and socio-economic issues. Ould, its co-founder and executive director was on Vancouver Island from Feb. 17–21 distributing blankets in several communities. He was accompanied by wife Fumika and daughter Zoe, seven months.

Ould’s co-founder is his son Ben, who was 22 months old when Ould came home that night from the movie theatre. Ould has always involved his children Ben, now 17, and Emma, 13 in his non-profit endeavours.

Ould bought the man on the sidewalk a blanket that first night. In the past 15 years he has developed relationships with linen companies and now re-purposes linens no longer suitable for hospital or airline use into donations for shelters and organizations helping people who live without proper housing. Blanket BC also accepts donations of clean blankets from the public.

“We capture what would normally be thrown out,” he said.

He was given 5,000 toques in November and has distributed them in communities across the province.

A blanket can make all the difference for a person living on the street, said John Douglas from Port Alberni Shelter Society. Douglas and an employee ensured donated blankets and toques were brought into a storeroom at Our Home on Eighth shelter on Eighth Avenue.

“It helps, it gives people one more element that helps them get through the night, and helps them with their level of housing,” Douglas said.

“We’ll distribute them through our different facilities: the sobering assessment centre and the overdose prevention site.”

The shelter society distributes a number of donated products through their sites to people in need, he explained. ” A lot of people can use them, especially during the wintertime.”

The Oulds met Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions at the Bread of Life warming centre on Third Avenue, where they distributed more blankets and toques as well as sleeping bags.

“We’re so incredibly appreciative to have the gift of blankets that we’ve gotten. To a lot of people living on the street in Port Alberni a blanket is all that they have,” Minions said.

“For me and for the average person, it’s something we take for granted. We don’t think about needing to equip ourselves to be warm, we just expect that we will be.”

Ould hopes to return to Vancouver Island again in the fall with more blankets to distribute.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

HomelessnessPORT ALBERNI

 

Gregory and Fumika Ould and their daughter Zoe bring blankets and toques to Our Home on Eighth Shelter in Port Alberni on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. They stopped in five communities on Vancouver Island with Blanket BC. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Gregory and Fumika Ould and their daughter Zoe bring blankets and toques to Our Home on Eighth Shelter in Port Alberni on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. They stopped in five communities on Vancouver Island with Blanket BC. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Gregory Ould of Blanket BC caught up with Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions when he went to the Bread of Life Warming Centre to drop off blankets and toques to Colin Minions, who is director of food security for the Salvation Army. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Gregory Ould of Blanket BC caught up with Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions when he went to the Bread of Life Warming Centre to drop off blankets and toques to Colin Minions, who is director of food security for the Salvation Army. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Just Posted

Berwick by the Sea resident Hilda Shilliday, 91, is ready to participate in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers’ Stride to turn the Tide fundraising event that runs April 11-25. Register on the event website for a fee of $20 which goes to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work in Africa, then do any kind of exercise, log the time, distance or whatever and be eligible for a prize package. Photo contributed
91-year-old Vancouver Islander ready to Stride to Turn the Tide

Campbell River’s Hilda Shilliday encourages everyone to support African grandmothers

Exterior of Highland Manor shows at least one broken window, covered with a blanket. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Reclaiming blighted Vancouver Island apartment complex requires more than paint

Improvements to Port Hardy’s troubled Highland Manor are slow and stuck in red tape

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

Carson Grant, general manager of Comox Valley Dodge regularly reaches out to people to assist with vehicles, food, clothes and more. Google Maps photo
Vancouver Islander getting back on her feet thanks to kindness of her community

Woman was living in her broken-down truck in Comox Valley when her call for help was answered

The Town of Lake Cowichan wants to get more people out of their cars. That should be the goal of all of the transportation plans currently under review in the Cowichan Valley. (Gazette file)
Editorial: Time to dream up better transportation options

Vancouver Island needs to ask ‘how are we going to get there from here?’

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

The City of Parksville encourages residents to visit outdoor restaurant patios as part of a social media challenge. (Submitted photo)
Parksville promotes patio patrons to post pictures to support restaurant industry

Patio Challenge: Take a photo of your food for social media

Campbell River’s Repair Cafe is on once again next week at the Sportsplex. It’ll just look a little different than people are used to. Mirror File Photo
Got a broken thing? Repair Cafe is once again looking for stuff to fix

Annual Campbell River service will be a drop-off/pick-up situation due to COVID-19 protocols

Anna Wu, a young golfer from Victoria, came in second at the Masters’ Drive, Chip and Putt challenge at the Augusta National Golf Club on March 4. (Photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Victoria golfer places second at Masters’ Drive, Chip and Putt youth competition

Anna Wu’s chipping challenge hole out was praised by Masters champ Phil Mickelson

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Most Read