When it comes to helping those in need, Got Ginch goes one layer deeper.
Started by Calgarian Brent King in 2008, the Got Ginch program provides underwear to homeless shelters and outreach organizations across Canada with resources that are desperately needed, but rarely discussed.
Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission is one such organization, and the Downtown Eastside shelter and outreach centre will receive 4,000 pairs of underwear this year through the program.
“The Got Ginch program has been a huge success, and has had a huge impact for us,” Jeremy Hunka, Senior Public Relations Specialist at the Union Gospel Mission told Vancity Buzz. In the seven years they’ve been in operation, Got Ginch has donated over 250,000 pairs of underwear, around 30,000 of which have ended up at the UGM and in the hands of the people of Vancouver.
“That’s pretty critical, because the need is a lot greater than people would think.”
Hunka says people often come to UGM seeking help with clothing, and often don’t have access to clean underwear, or don’t have underwear at all. He says this seemingly simple issue has a bigger impact than most people realize.
“At that point it isn’t so much about underwear, but about hygiene, dignity, and confidence,” he says. “Imagine… you’re stepping into a critical job interview after you’ve been struggling on the street, and you’re wearing dirty clothes and dirty underwear. You’re not going to feel confident, you’re not going to feel comfortable, and those are the kinds of things employers are looking for.”
While underwear is something many people don’t think about when they think of needs, Hunka says at UGM it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
“At Union Gospel Mission we really want to help with the whole of the person. It’s not just about food, it’s not just about shelter, it’s about transformation,” he says. “It’s about feeding the soul, and making somebody feel whole who is in a difficult situation, or maybe coming to us in trouble, or coming to us broken.”
This is the last year of the Got Ginch initiative, and while UGM will have enough underwear for almost the next year, they’ll be looking to the local community in the future.
“We’re really hoping Vancouver steps up because this is a really critical need that we have all year round,” he says. “Without Got Ginch we’ll really be relying on the people of Metro Vancouver to step up and step out and make sure that they’re helping in any way that they can.”
To find out how you can contribute to the Union Gospel Mission, visit them online.