When Preparing For Winter Means Preparing To Stay Alive
How do you prepare for winter? One can only assume it is not much different from that of your neighbours. Maybe you stow the patio furniture, haul out shovels and sidewalk salt, and switch out shorts with pants and tees with sweaters. There are also people in our community whose idea of preparing for winter means loading up on heavy socks and thermal underwear and doubling up on coats and sleeping bags.
Ten thousand people in Toronto are homeless on any given night. Of those living on the street, the majority are men and many are clients of Haven Toronto, a drop-in centre for elder men in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s.
It is unbelievable to think that, in Toronto, people are living in parks and alongside highways during the coldest nights and on the hottest days of the year. How they prepare for each seasons is very different than most people, and for that, most people should be grateful.
Haven Toronto supports clients in their preparation for the upcoming season, and impending extreme weather, by providing ‘Weather-Ready’ Kits featuring items vital to their survival.
Recognizing that clients carry everything they own, the drop-in centre distributes the items at different times throughout the year. Kits are customized to individual needs and can include winter boots, jacket, gloves and a toque, rain gear in the spring, and sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, shirts and shorts come summer. Socks and underwear are always in demand; an elder homeless man needs new socks every ten days.
The ‘Weather-Ready” kit is one of three care kits that Haven Toronto introduced to monthly donors in recent weeks.
There is a ‘Basic Care’ kit including items that many people might take for granted – items that are luxuries to someone who is homeless. There is also a ‘Healthy Meals’ kit that ensures clients receive at least one hot, healthy and nutritious meal every day, all year.
All three kits are made available for free to those less fortunate by donations at www.shophaventoronto.ca. Monthly donations mean year-long support for the most vulnerable in our community.