VICTORIA -- On Saturday, April 4, a neighbourhood response team comprised of different community-based organizations and businesses put out a call for tents, tarps and sleeping bags for those staying at Topaz Park.

The goal was to get around 500 items, whether brand new or slightly used.

In total, 640 separate items were donated for the cause.

Donations included 166 tents, 240 sleeping bags, 109 tarps and 125 sleeping mats for homeless people to use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It would appear that we have enough to start,” said Mark Breslauer, United Way of Greater Victoria CEO.

“We are anticipating further need but this was a wonderful yield to this point.”

The items will be taken to Topaz Park in Victoria on Wednesday to be distributed to those in need.

The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is coordinating the distribution of the items.

“Of course tents seem to be more of a requirement, so we are currently doing the math to see how we are doing on that front,” said Breslauer.

The ultimate goal is to house the city’s homeless population in Topaz Park and Royal Athletic Park. The temporary outdoor facilities will allow for proper physical distancing and sanitation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of Victoria says that it is still working with the provincial government and other charitable organizations to secure indoor shelters for the city’s homeless population.

In the meantime, United Way is still looking for donations. Anyone who is able to donate is asked to send an email to[.]