Clothing drive prepares international students for Canadian winters

    The St. Thomas University international office will host the third annual Winter Warm Up clothing drive on Nov. 15, 2021. (Kristen Leigh/Unsplash)

    The St. Thomas University international office will host the third annual Winter Warm Up clothing drive in Sir James Dunn Hall on Nov. 15. The clothing drive aims to outfit STU students who are lacking winter clothing. There will be racks with donated winter clothing and accessories, readily available for students to browse and take.

    “It’s an annual event that brings the campus community together and looks to the community for donations,” said Carrie Monteith-Levesque, STU’s international student coordinator.

    Carrie Monteith-Levesque, STU’s international student coordinator, said Winter Warm Up brings the campus community together. (Submitted: St. Thomas University)

    The clothing drive is a multi-party collaboration, bringing together STU’s international office, International Students’ Association and the students’ union. People looking to donate can drop items off in George Martin Hall room 311 until Nov. 12.

    So far, jackets are the most popular donated item. Monteith-Levesque said this is great because new winter coats are expensive. Organizers hope to collect winter essentials like hats, mitts, scarves and boots.

    Monteith-Levesque said the event was created after multiple international students arrived in Canada without proper winter clothes. Her office took action in 2019, asking around the STU community for donations.

    “We knew that there was a need and that there might be something we could do on campus,” she said.

    The first event in 2019 was a “swap and drop.” All donations that were received were given directly to international students. After seeing the success of the event, organizers decided to host it annually. This years’ clothing drive is open to the whole STU student community.

    Alex Nguyen, seen in this file photo, is vice president of administration for St. Thomas University’s Students’ Union. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Alex Nguyen, STUSU’s vice president administration, agreed that many students arriving in Canada couldn’t afford to purchase new winter outerwear.

    “One thing I noticed in my first year [was] a lot of international students were experiencing Canadian winter for the first time,” she said.

    Nguyen is from Vietnam and said students coming to study from other continents aren’t properly notified about the winter climate.

    “Many come from tropical regions … they don’t know what to buy and [what] clothing best suits Canadian winters,” said Nguyen. “The Winter Warm Up [event] helped me see the variety of [items] that helped me prepare better.”

    Because of COVID-19, all donated articles must be washed before being dropped off. Everything will be bagged at least 48 hours prior to the event. Volunteer students will be wiping surfaces and the clothing can’t be tried on.

    Monteith-Levesque said the reactions to the clothing drive on campus are positive. The event room will include a gratitude board where participants can leave thank you notes outlining how the clothing will help them get through the season.

    All leftover clothing will be passed along to other student groups or donated to community organizations.

    “You can never have enough pairs of mitts, hats and scarves,” said Monteith-Levesque.