December 2, 2023

One of Calgary’s largest donation programs says it is in need of critical support as its stock of free furniture items runs desperately low.

The Calgary Drop-In Centre’s free goods program provides furniture and other basic household items at no cost to low or no-income families and individuals.  

Demand for items is high with upward of 15 daily appointments, seven days a week, for people to stop by and pick up needed goods at their donation warehouse located at 3640 11A Street N.E.

Program supervisor Chris Kavanagh says supply is concerningly low.

“We are now seeing wait times to use this program backing up as far as mid-December and so that is hundreds and hundreds of families that are waiting to furnish their homes,” said Kavanagh.

“We have seen a massive uptick in refugees coming from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other areas where they’re struggling politically and financially right now, and we’re trying to provide them the warmest welcome we possibly can to our fine city.”

There is currently a need for end tables, kitchen tables, coffee tables, dressers, shelves, chairs, couches and most large furniture items to make a home.

Calgary’s Centre for Newcomers referred its clients — new immigrants and refugees who now call Calgary home —  to the program for furnishings and support.

CEO Anila Lee Yuen says the recent influx of newcomers has stretched donations thinner and thinner.

“We have a really large number of people coming into the city in a situation like we’ve never seen before in terms of the numbers,” said Yuen.

“They didn’t choose to be here and they had to leave behind everything so it’s bittersweet when you see the gratitude and that people are willing to donate but, at the same time, there’s an immense sadness in the sense of ‘How did I land in the situation where I actually need this?'”

Olena Sadovnik, a refugee from Ukraine who now lives in Calgary, shows a photo of her husband who she hopes to be reunited with soon.

Those emotions have been especially overwhelming for Olena Sadovnik who moved to Calgary in July to escape war-torn Ukraine.

“I remember when we locked our apartment door back in Kyiv and all I had was a backpack and my three-year-old daughter in my hand.”

Sadovnik was welcomed with support from Calgarians who were able to provide her with basic household items as she begins a new job as a career practitioner with the Centre for Newcomers.

“I am honestly just so grateful to Canada, to Alberta and the people here because they make us feel more welcome than all the other countries in the world.”

That feeling of support is something that also resonates with Skylar Houde, a low-income Calgarian who now works as a practicum student with the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

She received free goods including furniture, food, and basic home appliances, that gave her a more positive perspective on life.

“I didn’t even know a program like this existed so it really helped me get through what I needed when I had no stuff,” said Houde.

“Now I get to come in and see everybody smile and when they get new furniture I totally understand that feeling because I didn’t have that. I see just how much it benefits everyone.”

Calgarians wishing to donate to the Drop-In Centre’s free goods program can call (403) 264-0856, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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