Project Water marks 15 years of helping people in need

By Clark Kim

It all started 15 years ago when Jody Steinhauer learned that more homeless people die of dehydration in the summer than freeze to death from exposure in the winter.

So Steinhauer, president of The Bargains Group, launched Project Water, which has provided more than 1.8 million bottled water to those in need since its inception in 1999.

“I want to thank all of the incredible volunteers,” said Steinhauer, who also thanked all the sponsors at the launch of the 15th annual event that took place at The Bargains Group office on Caledonia Road Wednesday, July 9. “Thank you for making this project happen.”

PW-NorthYorkMirrorMore than 100 volunteers were on hand to help load the 300,000 bottles of water from Nestle Waters Canada as well as 3,000 summer survival kits into trucks to be delivered to 170 social service agencies, outreach providers and homeless shelters.

Eric Cisterna was happy to volunteer, knowing the importance of what they were doing actually helped him several years ago when he lived on the streets for a short time.

“You all here are changing people’s lives,” Cisterna addressed the crowd at the event, recalling that one morning at 4 a.m. on Bay Street when a man came by and gave him bottled water and a sandwich.

Since then, he’s worked for Ve’ahavta, an outreach organization that networks with other community agencies and distributes items they need like bottled water. Today, he works for The Bargains Group in a similar role.

“It’s by far the greatest experience of my life,” he said.

Dan Millar of the Salvation Army was just one representative of the many social service agencies benefitting from Project Water.

“Every time a heat alert is called, the Salvation Army is there. Dehydration is terrible. If you come to one of our trucks, you’ll get the water you need,” Millar said. “We can’t do it without the help of Project Water.”

Project Water is an initiative of Engage and Change, a charity created to foster good citizenship and encourage healthy communities by giving back.

For more information, visit www.projectwater.ca or www.engageandchange.org

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