Can one snowsuit change your life?
Just ask Oscar Arrieta, past recipient and current board member of The Snowsuit Fund and he will tell you YES!
The warmth and comfort of a blue and black snowsuit snowsuit had a life-changing impact on Oscar’s life after moving from a small city in Mexico to Canada with his family at 13 years old. The decision to uproot four children from their home and say good-bye to friends and family was a difficult one for Oscar’s parents. He, along with his younger brothers 12 and 8 and a little sister 10, were anxious about moving to a new country, but his parents knew that a life in Canada meant a better future for all of them, and they were right!
Arriving in Ottawa with nothing but hope and determination, Oscar remembers what it was like being a teenager trying to fit in. More than anything, he wanted to be with his new friends, playing outside after school and on weekends, enjoying the freedom of being outdoors.
And then he experienced his first Ottawa winter.
Have you ever gone out to get the recycling bin or walked to the mailbox without your jacket or gloves in winter? You pull your sleeves down over your hands or stuff them in your pockets – but it’s okay – it’s only for a minute, right? If your neighbour stops you for a chat, it’s not long before you start to shiver, and your hands begin to hurt. Now imagine if you were shivering like that while waiting for the school bus – you wouldn’t want to go to school! And how would you feel if your friends were outdoors having fun and you couldn’t join them?
Without warm clothing, Oscar felt left out, and that hurt on the inside. He is so grateful that donations to the Snowsuit Fund changed that. He and his siblings did not really know what was happening on the day his mom took them to an old brick building with a big red metal door. Inside, there were hundreds of snowsuits in different colours and styles. It was exciting for Oscar to pick his first winter jacket and pants. He found a suit in his favorite colours, blue and black, feeling it totally matched his personality!
When he left the Snowsuit Fund depot that day, he was proud of his new jacket. He had no idea that a piece of clothing would give him confidence and change his life. “I was warm heading off to school and I was active outdoors with friends all-year round. My brothers, sister, and I continue to love winter in Ottawa. We snowboard, play outdoor rink hockey and skate on the canal. All activities we were able to start as kids because of a warm snowsuit.” says a grateful Oscar Arrieta.
Today, Oscar is an engineer working as a warehouse automation consultant. In 2022, he married his beautiful wife and told her about his first cold winter in Ottawa, and how he still remembers his snowsuit. Together, they decided to help other kids who are too cold to go to school or play outdoors. Oscar says he is “excited to volunteer my time and join the Snowsuit Fund Board of Directors and help raise money to keep even more kids warm and give them the confidence I felt in my new snowsuit.”
Last year, donations to the Snowsuit Fund helped over 16,000 kids stay warm, and the expectation is that even more families will turn to the Snowsuit Fund this year with over 10,000 suits already donated.