Illustrative gif of a beauty bag full of products

Illustrations by LeeAndra Cianci

Where to donate beauty products in the GTA

Giving hair- and body-care items to these Toronto-area organizations boosts confidence for women in need

Lena* fled to Canada from Honduras to escape persecution as a trans woman in her home country. After settling in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), she felt safe enough to wear feminine clothes and start transitioning, but she was living below the poverty line. When she connected with the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, a United Way–supported agency, not only did they give her information about food banks and clothing depots, they also connected her with agencies that distributed beauty products and makeup to women in need.

“When you’re transitioning, you need all kinds of things to be able to feel comfortable,” says Lena. “You need makeup and you need to have enough tools to do your hair and your nails. As superficial as that sounds, to a trans person, it’s like a survival kit.”

When a woman is starting her life afresh—whether she’s fleeing violence, spousal abuse, human trafficking or another precarious situation—she has many needs. And while lipstick and body lotion might seem like low priorities, they’re not. Having access to beauty products like these helps boost self-confidence, which can lead to positive outcomes. A slick of mascara can help make a woman feel job-interview-ready or more confident meeting a new landlord (not to mention social situations full of new people and new challenges).

Not sure where your unopened makeup and beauty products will make a difference? Read on to learn about organizations across the GTA that accept donations.

Illustration of a hand holding a tube of mascara

Interim Place
Where: Contact shelter for location.
How to donate: Phone 905-403-9691 or fill out the online form to arrange a donation drop-off.
Who it helps: United Way–supported Interim Place provides shelter, support and counselling to Peel region women escaping abuse, as well as to their children. The agency welcomes donations of unused personal-care items, such as unscented hair- and skin-care products, curling irons and hair straighteners. They post a wish list on their website to let people know what they need at any given time.

Where: 962 Bloor St. W., Toronto
How to donate: You can drop off donations between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week.
Who it helps: A United Way–supported multi-service agency, Sistering supports at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are experiencing homelessness or are precariously housed. The organization accepts donations such as new cosmetics, hair elastics and scrunchies, and body lotions.

Where: Contact founder Tracey Cairns at 416-236-5110 for location.
How to donate: If you’re looking to donate goods, reach out to Cairns for specific instructions.
Who it helps: WomenAide is a Toronto-based non-profit that gives what they call “goods-in-kind”—in other words, items donated as an act of kindness—to survivors of spousal abuse. They collect thousands of personal-care products, from individuals and from corporate drives, to redistribute to women in need at GTA shelters like Ernestine’s, Red Door Family Shelter and Nellie’s. They also create care packages that women and their children can take with them when they move into their own place.

Illustration of a hand holding a blush palette

Covenant House
Where: 20 Gerrard St. E., Toronto
How to donate: To arrange an individual donation, contact Anzelm Sitchon at 416-598-4898 (ext. 5020); for a corporate donation, contact Sarah Boye at 647-252-2540.
Who it helps: For nearly 40 years, Covenant House has been dedicated to supporting vulnerable youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk. Among the products the organization accepts are shampoos, body washes, conditioners and body lotions.

Women’s Habitat
Where: 140 Islington Ave., Etobicoke
How to donate: Items can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, or you can arrange for a pickup by calling 416-252-7949.
Who it helps: United Way–supported Women’s Habitat is a community-based, feminist organization that provides vital support to women who are survivors of violence and poverty, and their dependents. Check out the organization’s Holiday Wish List for ideas on what to donate for Women’s Habitat’s Holiday Hamper Program, which benefits clients who cannot afford to purchase these items on their own. Hair accessories, bath sets and gift cards are welcome.

*Name has been changed

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