Darling is collecting donations of clothing, toys and books for children, and clothing for adults as well, to send to the people of Taguig, a city in Metro Manila in the Philippines. He said he has been there many times to visit family and friends, and is compelled to do something to help people there who are desperately in need.
"When you go there, you can't help but see the need," he said. "You see an elderly gentleman with his legs pretty much inoperable and he is dragging himself across a road. You see kids on the side of the road naked, and you can see clearly they haven't had a bath in who knows how long – you have to do something."
Darling said all types and sizes of clothing are needed – from socks and shorts, to underwear, shirts and pants.
"People think that because it's such a warm climate there, everybody likes to walk around half-naked, but they don't, they have their pride," he said.
He said the condition and size of clothes donated isn't even really that important because they will make use of anything they are given. He added shoes and boots are especially valuable.
"Honestly, I don't know how those people walk with just bare feet out there – it just kills me, because it so dangerous with stuff on the ground."
Darling said he collects donated items at the airport and when he has enough he packs them in boxes and arranges for transport to either Calgary or Vancouver, where they will then be taken to the Philippines. He said Central Mountain Air graciously waives the freight fee for shipping boxes to Vancouver.
He said once the items arrive in Manila, he has a friend who lives in Taguig who arranges to have them sent to people in need. He said she doesn't operate through an international charity or organization, but rather through local churches, schools and orphanages, and by just giving to people she encounters on the streets.
"It's random, but it's working, and I've been over there lots of times to see that it is working," said Darling. "It's interesting when you walk down the street and you can see clothes that you've given away on children there, and even adults."
He said he will be accepting donations year-round, but right now especially he is eager to receive whatever help the community can give him.
"I'm in a drought. I'm getting a little antsy because I would like to send something out right away, but I have maybe one box I can send. I have lots of boxes to fill."
For those interested in donating items, Ian Darling can be reached at 250-719-2500.