The Gift hopes to see presents on Chatham-Kent doorsteps

·2 min read

It's as simple as leaving a gift — any gift — on your doorstep.

That's the idea Brent Wilken of Chatham-Kent is hoping will bring the community together this holiday season. Earlier this year, Wilken was one of the organizers of Miracle Day, which collected more than 900,000 kilograms of food for the needy. Now, he's hoping for a similar haul collecting gifts for those who need them or cannot afford to give them with "The Gift."

"Any gift that speaks to you, you leave it on your doorstep and the people in your community will make sure they get it to the right person," Wilken told CBC's Windsor Morning. "Put anything out right there, and we'll make sure it finds the right home."

The collection is set to take place on November 21 in Chatham-Kent. Wilken says that as of three to four days ago the program had signed up around 1,500 volunteers to help with collection and distribution. He added that he thinks the number now might be up to 2,000.

And no gift is too small — or too large.

"So it can be just as simple as the smallest piece of food or can of pizza sauce all the way to — you put 20 bicycles out there we'll pick it up," Wilken said.

The gifts do not need to be wrapped.

Every address in Chatham-Kent and Walpole Island can participate, according to the program's website. Smaller rural communities in the region have until Nov. 5 to decide whether they want to participate in door-to-door pick up.

Brent Wilken
Brent Wilken

A number of charities in the region have signed on to to assist with The Gift, including the local chapters of the Salvation Army and Goodfellows. It's also securing spaces for all the donations, and it's already working to turn the Old Ag Medica building on Richmond Street into "the ultimate gift shop."

Wilken said The Gift came out of conversations at a cannabis business he was working to build which would emphasize community connections. He and his co-workers have since hit pause on the company to focus on The Gift.

While he doesn't know what gift he'll be leaving on his doorstep just yet, Wilken says his mother will be putting out some homemade pottery — a gift motivated by a Christmas when she and her husband could not afford to buy each other gifts.

"She's never forgot that one and how tough it felt at that time, so that's what motivated her, and that's what she's doing," Wilken said.

Volunteers can sign up at https://www.thegiftck.ca/ or email thegiftck.ca@gmail.com