By Pat Forrest

There’s an undercover operation going on in Thunder Bay—but this one doesn’t involve any law enforcement agencies or private eyes. The “Undercover Project” is one of several programs offered by Community Clothing Assistance (CCA) that provides services to families and individuals in need.

CCA executive director Ewa Gulbinowicz says that when CCA was founded in 2006, it was quickly brought to their attention that many children in the community were going to school without underwear or socks. The Undercover Project was launched with the goal of providing seven pairs of new socks and underwear to elementary school children whose families are in need. She points out that there are some 2000 kids in Thunder Bay living at or below the poverty line, indicating a great need for collective community action. And it’s not just about addressing a physical need. The program, she says, helps to provide a feeling of dignity and self-confidence for the children and hope for the family as a whole.
The Undercover Project partners with the Christmas Cheer Foundation and UNIFOR Local 229 Women’s Committee, who provide volunteers to distribute vouchers that can be redeemed at CCA’s location. However, for the project to continue, Gulbinowicz says that they need the public’s help. “This project has provided a much-needed resource to those in our community who are struggling for the bare necessities of life. In order for us to continue to help, we need a committed volunteer base and continued partnerships, along with being able to secure funds through grants and donations from the public,” she says.

Gulbinowicz adds that the community as a whole benefits from the Undercover Project. A project of this magnitude inspires great acts of volunteerism, and community mobilization around issues that impact its most vulnerable members. “The effort that goes into this project by all participants is what continues to make our community a better place and allows our organization to keep helping those in need,” she says.

The total cost of providing 2000 school-aged children with seven new pairs of socks and seven new pairs of underwear is $52,000. Financial donations and/or donations of new underwear and socks are greatly appreciated. CCA is asking for community support and generosity to ensure that children in our city receive the basic necessities so often taken for granted. Monetary donations are graciously accepted at Copperfin Credit Union and the CCA distribution centre located at 404 North May Street. Organizations can support this charitable effort by providing a place where CCA can distribute their collection bins for public donations.  Groups of individuals can participate in an active way by taking on the project at school, or a company employee donation drive project.