The big tent on the corner of Ryan Road and Island Highway Saturday – at the old Canadian Tire location – had nothing to do with a sale. It had everything to do with helping the community’s less fortunate.
The site will be the new home of Comox Valley Dodge in the coming months, and the dealership’s general manager Carson Grant made great use of the location over the Thanksgiving weekend.
He spearheaded a 24-hour fundraising and support campaign, offering warmth, food, clothing and fellowship to anyone who stopped by.
The tent went up at 8 a.m. Saturday and Grant said people started dropping by within minutes.
There were toques, socks and warm clothing available for free, and the fundraising angle benefited two local non-profits – Sunday Station Society and Comox Valley Street Outreach.
The effort was well-received by those in need.
“It was north of 50 people who came through, for sure,” said Grant. “There were three tables absolutely stacked full, and underneath, of clothing, and by the end of it, it was all gone.
“There were so many tears of joy because I think so many of them just felt relief about coming to a safe place, that had no drugs or anything like that. We had some firepits going, and some chairs and people just sat around and just stayed there, which was exactly why we did it.”
The supplies came from numerous sources, including Comox Valley Dodge, the two non-profits that were part of the campaign, and donations from the community at large.
“A lot from people here at Comox Valley Dodge, but a lot of people in the community dropped off a lot of clothes, which was extremely helpful,” said Grant. “The community definitely helped out quite a bit.”
The fundraising aspect of the campaign was hugely successful. Through onsite donations and a crowdfunding page, the event raised $5,945 for the two non-profits – a total that Comox Valley Dodge matched. A cheque for $11,890 was presented Monday, which Sunday Station Society and Comox Valley Street Outreach will split evenly.
“They are the two biggest reasons for this – those two non-profits,” said Grant. “They do this 24/7, and they put in so much hard work and dedication trying to guide people in the right direction. I wanted to help them out because I know that this past year hasn’t been great for donations so I wanted to help get them to that next level.”
Grant said there were many reasons for this latest community initiative.
“I wanted to spread some awareness on homelessness. I think that they get painted with a brush as individuals that are stealing and causing trouble in the community, but they are good people. It’s just bad things have happened to them, and they are up against it.”
He said the initiative was also an opportunity to continue with Comox Valley Dodge’s mission to be a leader in the community – showing that it is a business that cares, “not only for our clients and our business, and how we do our business, but with our community in general.”
Grant said there is also a personal angle to his efforts.
“I lost my brother to a drug overdose five years ago, and I feel I could have done more at that point, so I am just trying to reach out and do my part now,” he said. “So hopefully we can help a few more people get on the straight and narrow, and let them know they are not alone.”
He added that the whole experience was a humbling one, not only for himself, but for everyone involved.
“When we do these things, it definitely makes me realize how fortunate we are, and I wanted my team to feel that as well,” said Grant. “Especially with my younger (staff) that came down and spent some time there … it was quite eye-opening for them. They realized that their problems aren’t really problems.”
The Record has reached out to representatives from both Sunday Station Society and Comox Valley Street Outreach for further comment.