Street Store for the Homeless encourages humanism in medicine

    Volunteers and donations are still needed for this unique event

    By Shelby Soke on March 23, 2016

    Whether we enjoy it or dread it, many of us do not fully appreciate the opportunity to shop for ourselves.  While it can be easy to overlook, this small act of independence can mean a lot to those less fortunate who feel they have little control over their own lives. An upcoming event organized by Jessica Luc, a second year medical student, will provide Edmonton’s homeless youth with a dignified shopping experience.  

    The Street Store for the Homeless will be held on April 1, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Pop-up shops will be set up at Nova, Boyle Street Community Services and The Bridges Treatment Centre. Student and faculty volunteers are still needed to sort items, transport clothes, set up the pop-up shops and provide customer service.  If you are unable to volunteer, the group is also looking for people to lend foldable tables, hangers and monetary donations to purchase hangers.

    The Street Store for the Homeless is part of a series of events organized by Luc, the Gold Humanism Honor Society representative for her class.  This particular event was selected to encourage humanism in medicine because of the impact it will have on both the community and the students.

    “Homelessness is a growing issue in Edmonton. When you think about trying to solve a problem you start at the roots. Homeless youth ages 12 to 18 are particularly vulnerable,” said Luc. “It is important for us to meet them before we see them as patients later in our education and careers.  The pop-up shops give us a chance to interact with the less fortunate and reinstate their confidence by providing a simple service that treats them as people, which is the definition of humanism.”

    For this event Luc and the medical student volunteers have partnered with Helping Hands for Homeless Youth, a student organization that aims to raise awareness and funding for at-risk youth in Edmonton.

    The Street Store for the Homeless’ unique concept gives the participants a regular, dignified shopping experience. They are able to browse through the racks of clothes, interact with the students providing customer service and choose what items they want to keep.

    “With clothing drives, there is often no interaction because the shelter facilitates giving the clothes away,” said Luc.  “There is a difference between sympathy and empowerment, and we want to empower the homeless community of Edmonton.  It’s important for us to show them that we care and that we are willing to go out into their community to help them. We don’t need them to come to us.”

    Over 150 items have already been collected but more donations are always welcome. In addition to clothing, items like toiletries, shoes, sleeping bags, socks and mittens are also encouraged.

    If you are interested in volunteering for this event or have items to donate, please fill out the volunteer form or contact Jessica Luc at jgluc@ualberta.ca.