On Oct. 23, Harmony Square hosted its second Pop-Up Store event. The event was organized by Jennifer Middleton, with the goal of providing a retail store-like experience for people in need.
Anyone could come to the event, and no one asked any questions. Harmony Square was full of tables with volunteers handing out toiletries, shoes, fall/winter clothing and more. Different schools and businesses throughout Brantford have been holding clothing drives the past few months to contribute to the event.
One of these drives was organized by Stacey Cox Farrant, owner of SWEET Bakery. Farrant was the organizer of an event called Socktober, which she explained was, “A community initiative with community partners, businesses, schools and organizations that were collecting new socks, hats, mittens, scarfs internally or acting as a drop off location. All of the donations are redistributed to other community organizations that are involved with people in need like the pop up store.”
Stacey spoke about the importance of the event saying, “The pop up store is the perfect distribution centre for those that do need some extra help. The timing of the event worked out well because the weather got so cold the past couple of days. It’s a great opportunity to get people started and taking care of themselves.”
Farrant said she brought around 1, 000 items to the Pop Up Store, and those were only the items dropped of at SWEET Bakery. The Brantford Police Department, Giant Tiger, Brant Wellness and Physiotherapy, Closet Couture, Petit Gourmet and Serenity Candles also served as drop-off locations. Farrant said that she was sure that between the rest of the locations there are thousands of items left to be donated, meaning they would hit their goal of 3000 items.
Cheryl Antoski has volunteered at both Pop Up Store events and has seen the positive effects they have had on the community first-hand. She said, “I know at the first event we helped about 300 people, and I believe by the end of today we will have helped far more than that.”
“We are always looking for ways to mesh events like this with businesses and the community. Drives like Socktober really provide an easy way for people to make donations … This event has shown what a generous community we have … This event shows exactly what Brantford is willing to do in order to help our most vulnerable people,” said Antoski.
Midway through the event, Harmony Square was full of people of all ages taking advantage of the community’s donations. The event was very organized, as if it were an actual retail store. Each table had different types of donations, and they were organized by size, gender, and classification. Participants appreciated the anonymity the event provided. Volunteers were friendly and helpful, and there was no judgement from anyone involved.
Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by some sort of mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness can hinder people from being able to work and support themselves, causing financial struggles. If people who are suffering are unable to get help, they can end up in poverty. This is why it is so important for communities to help and support people who are in need and why events such as the Pop Up store are so important.