Project Winter Survival: helping Toronto’s homeless stay warm

Cold-weather kits packet at The Bargains Group on Caledonia

If Jody Steinhauer had her way, Project Winter Survival wouldn’t exist.

But sadly, she knows homelessness isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

For the past 16 years, Project Winter Survival has annually packed 3,000 kits full of cold weather necessities for those in need for distribution through more than 160 homeless shelters and social service agencies across Toronto and surrounding areas.

Steinhauer and volunteers packed sleeping bags, hats, gloves, toiletries and other winter essentials Saturday, Jan. 17 at The Bargains Group at Caledonia Road and Glencairn Avenue.

Volunteers form an assembly line stuffing cold weather and toiletry items into bags to be delivered to the homeless as part of the Bargain Group's annual Project Winter Survival event on Saturday.
Volunteers form an assembly line stuffing cold weather and toiletry items into bags to be delivered to the homeless as part of the Bargain Group’s annual Project Winter Survival event on Saturday.

Since its inception in 1999, Project Winter Survival, now part of national charity Engage and Change, has packed and distributed 26,000 winter survival kits for the homeless.

“The best thing that could happen is that Project Winter Survival doesn’t happen,” said Steinhauer, founder of the initiative and president and CEO of The Bargains Group.

“We are a Band-Aid solution. Until there is more affordable housing, Project Winter Survival has to be there.”

The recent deaths of three homeless men attributed to freezing temperatures has brought awareness to the problem, Steinhauer said, adding it enforces how important Project Winter Survival is.

Mayor John Tory has appointed Senator Art Eggleton, a former Toronto mayor, to lead a six-person task force to study issues within Toronto Community Housing and its affordable housing units.

A $25 donation helps sponsor Project Winter Survival kits, and Engage and Change issues tax receipts for all financial donations.

Though kits have been assembled, Steinhauer said financial contributions are always needed and appealed for donations.

To donate, visit projectwintersurvival.com

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Tags : bargains group canada engage and change homeless homelessness inside toronto jody steinhauer project winter survival survival kits toronto volunteer winter