The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

10 cities in 10 days to provide basic needs and dignity

SHawkins GotGinch6 thumbUnderwear is something that the average Canadian takes for granted. But for the homeless, it could be considered a luxury.

Calgary entrepreneurs Brent King and Robb Price are driving across Canada with 35,000 pairs of new men’s underwear to donate to 10 shelters in 10 days.

“It’s basically two full work weeks of driving. It’s 77 hours. So if you imagine sitting at your desk for two full work weeks, we’ll be driving every single one of those hours,” Price said.

SHawkins GotGinch2Brent King and Robb Price pose with volunteers and staff of The Mustard Seed. King and Price are driving across Canada to personally donate 35,000 pairs of underwear to 10 shelters throughout the country.

Photo by: Samara Hawkins
The GotGinch Cross-Canada Underwear Drive began in 2009. Brent King, a 43-year-old medical engineer, wanted to give back to the community, but in a more meaningful way than just writing a cheque.

Through a network of business and personal contacts, King arranged to have 25,000 pairs of underwear manufactured in Asia and shipped to Vancouver. Each year, King personally delivers each pair of underwear to shelters across Canada. In both 2010 and 2011, Robb Price, 33, has made the journey with King.

“At the end of this year we will have given away 90,000 pairs of underwear in three years. I can’t wait to break 100,000. That will be a huge milestone for us,” King said.

The annual trip is funded through donations that are made year-round to Price’s website, delivergood.org, or through The Mustard Seed. King covers any outstanding expenses.

SHawkins GotGinch3Volunteers and staff of The Mustard Seed form an assembly line to unload boxes of underwear. The Calgary organization received 3,500 pairs of underwear from King and Price.

Photo by: Samara Hawkins
DMThe GotGinch RV rolled up in front of The Mustard Seed’s southeast location Sept. 25 and was greeted cheers from employees and volunteers at the homeless shelter.

 “It’s a really small item, but it makes a really big difference to get it,” Alyssa Burnham, communications specialist at The Mustard Seed said. “It’s one of those items that is always on our high needs list. It’s one of the last things that people think about donating.”

Burnham explained that the donated underwear is stored and distributed to guests of The Mustard Seed, with 3500 pairs of tighty-whities lasting the organization less than a year.

Although organizations like The Mustard Seed have many items donated to assist individuals in need, Burnham said that it is “probably a little bit uncomfortable for people” to donate new underwear.

SHawkins GotGinch6Brent King (L) and Robb Price ® show off the donated goods. King and Price are driving across Canada donating men's underwear to shelters. In 10 days, they will have donated 35,000 pairs.

Photo by: Samara Hawkins
“Most of us are able to go to our closets or drawers every morning, and pick out whatever it is we want to wear,” Burnham said “Most of us think about what color of shirt we want, but when you are staying in the shelter or on the streets, those choices are often taken away from you. It’s a real blessing for people to be able to go into our clothing room, pick an outfit­– which includes clean underwear– to feel clean and normal.”

After a short stopover in Calgary, King and Price headed to Edmonton. Once dropping the donated briefs at The Mustard Seed’s Edmonton location, they are heading to Saskatoon, where they will stay the night with King’s 98-year-old grandmother.

“[She] insists on making us breakfast in the morning when we get up,” King says with a laugh.

For both King and Price, the cross-Canada journey is personally rewarding.

“It’s pretty neat when you come to the organizations and we deliver the underwear to the organization, but seeing the faces of the people who actually receive it, it’s such a basic piece of human dignity that so many of us take for granted,” Price said.

To learn more about the GotGinch Cross Canada Underwear Drive, or to donate, please visit http://www.delivergood.org/gotginch.