Almost 10 years ago, Newmarket’s Joshua Campbell wanted to make a positive impact in his community and began thinking about the best way to help support the underserved population.
He wanted to focus on an area that’s not talked about enough to try and bring awareness while helping to fill the gap in resources.
After doing some research and working with Inn From the Cold, the local realtor recognized the need for underwear for the less fortunate.
That led to him creating the Underwear Challenge, an annual underwear drive put together by him and his team at Knowledge Broker to support men, women and children from Inn From the Cold and Belinda’s Place shelters in Newmarket.
Campbell said a lot of the time communities donates clothes, but there’s a shortage of underwear since it can’t be donated used and has to be new.
“You can’t donate underwear and it’s relatively expensive,” he said.
The first year that Campbell ran the Underwear Challenge, it brought in a few hundred dollars worth of underwear, last year he says they ended up with a couple thousand dollars worth with 250 pairs donated.
“The neatest thing is seeing how much people start to appreciate what they have and ultimately start sharing it with others,” he said.
Awareness is key to it all, and Campbell said that starts with teaching children at a young age about homelessness and how they can help.
He said that a lot of the time children are the ones most excited about giving back and he encourages families to take their kids to the store to purchase underwear for the drive so that they can learn.
“Teach them about what they’re doing and who they’re giving it to,” he said. “That creates awareness, and when you have awareness it leads to bigger results in regards to how we treat people, especially those less fortunate.”
Campbell thinks the awareness aspect of the Underwear Challenge is more important than the initiative itself because he says if nobody knows about the need, then nobody is going to step up.
“It’s a win-win because it builds awareness while providing the vulnerable with something that’s hard to get,” he said. “Underwear can be $10 to $15 these days, for crying out loud.”
Providing underwear to the vulnerable is also a way to empower them and help provide them with self-esteem and self-respect to give them a foundation to help them get back on their feet.
“Having to wear the same underwear over and over again, most people couldn’t imagine,” he said. “Underwear is a necessity that we take for granted.”
The Underwear Challenge will be collecting newly packaged underwear for men, women, and children between now and Friday, Dec. 23. To support the challenge drop off/deliver newly packaged underwear at 249 Avenue Rd. in Newmarket or contact Campbell for pick up at [email protected].