These organizations are making sure people who can’t afford cold-weather gear stay warm this winter
BY SUZANNE GARDNER
As the temperature plunges in late fall, you pull out your woolly hat, fleece-lined mittens and puffy parka to prep for the freezing winter months ahead. But for many GTA residents who are experiencing homelessness or poverty, these items aren’t always easy to find—or afford. Newcomers to Toronto who are facing their first Canadian winter are often especially unprepared.
“Clothing is the thing that often takes a back seat,” says Andrea Holland, donor engagement and communications coordinator at New Circles, which runs GLOW (short for Gently Loved Outfits to Wear), the largest clothing bank in Toronto. “We’re here to make sure that people don’t have to make a choice. They can have the coat and pay their rent. It’s a question of safety and health: if you aren’t adequately dressed, it can really affect your health.”
If you want to make an immediate difference in your community this season, consider donating warm clothing to these GTA charities. Just make sure the items are in good condition—Holland says they happily accept both new and gently used winter clothing, as long as the donation is high-quality. “We always say, ‘If you wouldn’t wear it yourself, it’s not appropriate for the clothing bank,’” she explains.
Where: 161 Bartley Dr., Toronto How to donate: Winter clothing is a seasonal priority, but you can donate all types of gently used and new clothing to New Circles from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (7 p.m. on Thursdays). New Circles has also partnered with Bosley Real Estate to provide four additional drop-off locations across the city. Who it helps: GLOW isn’t just a clothing bank; it’s a shopping experience. New Circles’ mission is to preserve the dignity of their 15,000 annual clients, so sizes and styles are laid out like they are in retail stores, allowing clients to browse and choose what works for them. The organization helps ensure that local families who are experiencing poverty, including newcomers and refugees, can meet their basic clothing needs any time of year.
Where: 205 Parliament St., Toronto How to donate: Winter gear for young women and children gets an excellent second home through Jessie’s. Bring donations of new and gently used clothing for women aged 15 to 20 and for children up to size 6/6X to Jessie’s on Tuesdays, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., or Thursdays, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Who it helps: Jessie’s helps pregnant women and mothers who are 19 years old or younger through housing support, health services, counselling and more. The Swap Shop makes your in-kind donations available to these women and their families, free of charge.
Where: 4100 Lawrence Ave. E., Scarborough How to donate: Give those winter coats, jackets, boots and accessories a new life by taking them to SCHC’s clothing bank location on weekdays, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Who it helps: SCHC helps thousands of low-income Scarborough residents every year through 38 different programs across 11 sites. Services include the clothing bank, food bank, housing supports, community health services programs and more.
Where: 44 Peel Centre Dr., Suite 200, Brampton How to donate: You can help women in need by donating gently used hats, scarves, mittens, winter jackets, jeans, hoodies and socks. (Toiletries and feminine hygiene products are other much-needed items.) Bring your contributions to their office from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Who it helps: The Elizabeth Fry Society helps women in Peel-Halton Region who are, or may, be at risk of coming into conflict with the law.
Where: 510 Penrose St., Newmarket How to donate: Pass on your gently used men’s and women’s clothing, boots and shoes to Inn from the Cold. Bring your donations to their shelter from Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Who it helps: Inn from the Cold helps meet the needs of people in York Region who are experiencing homelessness, with shelter, housing support and other services.
Where: 962 Bloor St. W., Toronto How to donate: Support a sister in need by bringing your gently used women’s jackets, coats, mittens, gloves, scarves and boots to Sistering’s office from Monday to Sunday (yes, that’s every day of the week!), between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Who it helps: Sistering, a United Way-funded agency, runs a wide variety of programming to help at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are experiencing homelessness or are precariously housed.
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