With the sun blazing down and music pumping, dozens of volunteers loaded hundreds of thousands of water bottles into trucks Wednesday, June 24 to be delivered to those who call the streets home.
Now in its 16th year, Project Water will provide more than 170 social service agencies, outreach providers and homeless shelters with some 300,000 bottles of water and 3,000 summer survival kits in an effort to keep those living on the streets hydrated and safe during summer heat.
An Engage and Change initiative, Project Water was founded by Jody Steinhauer, president of The Bargains Group on Caledonia Road, south of Lawrence Avenue.
Donated by Nestle Waters Canada, the water was put into trucks situated in The Bargains Group parking lot to be distributed to the homeless in the city and Greater Toronto Area later that day and throughout summer.
Summer survival kits, which include bottled water, a reusable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, toiletries, first aid items, sunglasses and a poncho, will be handed out during the summer.
Project Water usually launches in July, but was moved up to avoid potential conflicts relating to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, Steinhauer said.
“The need is greater,” she said of Project Water resources. “Every year there is a slight increase.”
John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestle Waters Canada, a corporate sponsor for the initiative over the past nine years, said it’s critically important to be able to access water, something the homeless might not be able to do.
“Project Water is vitally important,” he said. “Jody proactively understands the issue. We can see the impact.”
Without initiatives like Project Water, agencies like The Salvation Army wouldn’t be able to function, said Dan Millar, area director of public relations and development for the charity.
“They help give us water to supply the streets,” he said, adding 1,200 bottles are handed out within a four-hour stretch. “People cannot survive without water. Our tag line is ‘giving hope today’, and that’s what we’re doing at today’s event.”
Steinhauer also heads Project Winter Survival, which distributes winter survival kits to the homeless, including sleeping bags.