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Barrie Families Unite seeks permanent home as demand surges

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Barrie Families Unite has been sharing a space with the Barrie and District Christmas Cheer since 2020, but now, the organization needs a place of its own.

Barrie Families Unite launched during the pandemic and has since grown tremendously due to increased demand.

"It's absolutely incredible to see how much they've grown and how much they've substantially been able to support our community, and we support the same clients and individuals and families most of the time, so it's really nice to see us come together the way we do," says Christmas Cheer president Sandra Yaquo.

However, every year, the organization has to move out of the warehouse from November to January during Christmas Cheer's busy months.

The group is now looking for a permanent home to use year-round to create more efficiency.

"Having our own space would allow us to do that to have racks. We could maybe entertain the potential of having a front-end retail store so people could come and self-shop," says Nikki Glahn, Barrie Families Unite executive director.

The group works as a fulfilment centre, helping vulnerable community members as well as local social agencies, providing clothing, food and 'start over kits' of home essentials such as pots, pans, cutlery and more.

"Usually once a week I pick up supplies for my clients as I have some clients that are homeless, I pick up winter gear for them - hats, mitts, jackets and boots," says Elizabeth Degroot from the Canadian Mental Health Association Barrie.

The organization has also seen increased demand from international students and newcomers.

"Most of my clients actually that I have seen, they have never experienced winter like Canada, so they are not prepared. They don't have winter clothing that could be useful in Canadian weather," says Noor Siddiqui, Catholic Family Services Newcomer outreach coordinator.

Staff with Barrie Families Unite is asking anyone with an idea for a new space to contact them.

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