As the season turns towards winter, Salt Spring Island Community Services is preparing for the annual launch of one of its most critical programs.

‘In From the Cold’ is composed of an overnight shelter and evening meal hosted at the site of their main facility on Ganges Hill at 268 Fulford-Ganges Road. Shelter staff also helps people identify other housing options and connect them with support services.

The shelter opens officially in November with partial funding from the provincial government through BC Housing.  Strict weather criteria limits the nights that the shelter is funded to those meeting the definition of extreme weather such as temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, snow, or continuous rain for longer than 14 hours.

“There are 20-30 people seeking shelter on the island every single night,” said Rob Grant, Executive Director of Salt Spring Community Services. “In order to be able to provide basic needs consistently during the cold months we require more funding than what is available from BC Housing who limits funding to the harshest nights only.  There is, however, the need for shelter every winter night for Salt Spring people facing homelessness.”  That is the focus of the ‘In from the Cold’ campaign beginning this month.

Based on previous years records, Grant estimates a requirement of $25,000 to properly fund the shelter program for the 2014/15 winter season.

In-kind donations of specific items in good shape, such as rain gear and woolen socks are also welcome.  Jordan Lessick, the shelter coordinator at Community Services should be contacted for offers at 250-537-9971. Volunteers for the shelter and food bank are also in high demand.

“Volunteers are the backbone of the services we provide,” said Lessick. “Anyone who is willing to pitch in at the food bank or the shelter is more than welcome”.