Celebrities try to warm hearts of cold homeless in Canada
AFP - 1 hour 34 minutes ago
VANCOUVER (AFP) - - Big-name celebrities are trying to warm the hearts of homeless people freezing on the streets in Canada's sub-zero winter, offering special cold-busting coats.
The "15 Below" jackets have a waterproof and wind-resistant shell, and pockets in the sleeves, body and hood to hold crushed newspaper -- a significant insulator when the weather really drops.
Jackets signed by supermodel Heidi Klum and rock icon Sir Elton John are on auction until December 15 on Ebay.ca, said Lisa Sanders, a spokesperson for TAXI, a North American advertising agency that created the coats.
Other celebrities who signed "15 Below" jackets for earlier auctions include Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, actor Sir Michael Caine, and comedian Jon Stewart, said Sanders.
The auction proceeds, plus enough jackets to warm the backs of 3,000 homeless people, are being donated to the Salvation Army charity, Sanders added.
Everyone involved in the process, except the overseas manufacturers, donated their time and material to the project.
Since November 22 the Salvation Army has been handing out the coats to needy folks in soup kitchens and shelters in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
"The jacket will keep somebody alive," said Salvation Army spokesman Jonathan Michel, who recently helped to hand out 500 coats at a soup kitchen in the western Canadian city of Vancouver.
"It's brilliant, really, you can stuff it with newspapers, which is a good insulator," he added.
TAXI creative director Steve Mykolyn won a staff contest with the 15 Below Jacket for an altruistic idea celebrating the firm's 15th anniversary.
Canadian fashion designer Lida Baday donated the design, then Mykolyn tested the prototype by wearing it in a meat locket for more than eight hours.
The coat held up in the test -- at temperatures ranging from a chilly minus-18 degrees to a bone-breaking minus-29 degrees Celsius (minus-0.4 to minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit), while Mykolyn was monitored by a paramedic.
When TAXI asked the Salvation Army if it wanted to participate in the campaign, spokesman Andrew Burditt, said the first concern was that the coat uphold the dignity of homeless people.
The charity was suitably impressed with the design to give the go-ahead.
"When it's stuffed, it looks like any jacket anyone would be comfortable wearing," said Burditt.
But the jacket's real test will be on Canada's frozen streets, where temperatures in some cities during the northern winter can plunge to minus-30 Celsius (minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit), or even lower.
Surveys suggest there are between 150,000 and 300,000 homeless people among Canada's total population of 33.4 million.
Sanders said the jackets could be distributed in other countries if a corporate sponsor could be found to fund the project.
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Heidi Klum attends the grand opening cocktail party for the new Victoria Secret Lexington Avenue Flagship Store on December 2, 2008 in New York City. Big-name celebrities are trying to warm the hearts of homeless people freezing on the streets in Canada's sub-zero winter, offering special cold-busting coats.
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