A downtown Moose Jaw business has taken it upon itself to create a homelessness initiative to help those in need to this holiday season.  

Vanessa Schaefer – the owner of Sweet Treats Candy Company has kicked started the HUG Project Outreach Initiative that will begin on Nov. 22., at 11:00 a.m.

With her downtown location on River Street East, Schaefer has seen firsthand how many people within the city are affected by homelessness and this initiative is a way she can give back to them.  

“I felt a draw to provide a service just to make their day a little bit better and to pass along some warmth to them so they don’t feel like all the struggles that they’re going through are for nothing and someone out there cares about them,” says Schaefer. 

“I felt really strongly that this was something I needed to do. It’s great to see that we have plans in place for a homeless shelter, but I know there is an immediate need out there and things that aren’t being addressed. I wanted to do something now, I didn’t want to wait for a year down the road,” adds Schaefer. 

She has split her store in two – one side being for her retail operation and the other side operating as the HUG Project, which will provide those less fortunate with some basic necessities this winter. 

“It will contain a table that will have a coffee pot that will be on every day that I’m open, for anybody that is in need to grab a cup of coffee to warm up and to take that time and have that personal connection with someone.” 

Sweet Treats Coffee Station Nov 21.jpg The coffee station set-up that people can expect when they visit the Sweet Treats Candy Company. Photo credit: Vanessa Schaefer 

Along with a pot of coffee and a place to warm up, the space will also act as somewhat of a donation centre, where people can donate extra items that will help those less fortunate through their day.  

“Anyone that goes to the store if they have an extra few dollars to pick up a box of granola bars or anything that is non-perishable to hand out to individuals that are walking by. A tin of coffee, creamers, and coffee cups. Whatever they would like to spare. Even warm socks.” 

Other items that she is looking for are gloves, bandages, wet wipes, toothpaste and toothbrush, non-perishable snacks, sugar packets, scarves, blankets, and warm hats.  

Also, she wants to make sure that women that are living on the street are taken care of, which is why she will be offering feminine hygiene products.  

“That is something that gets missed. When people think about donations they don’t think about something very simple that will help out a female in need. I want to start doing some packages up for them so I can get them handed out.” 

The hope is that those that use this service and the items they receive help them and down the road, they could do the same for someone else that could use a HUG.  

Those that are interested in donating can do so by dropping those items off at the Sweet Treats Candy Company (14 River Street East).