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Bottles of water to help quench thirst of city’s homeless – Inside Toronto

For 13 years, Jody Steinhauer has helped to keep the homeless hydrated during long, hot summer months.

Some 200 volunteers turned out at The Bargains Group Thursday, July 5 to kick-off Project Water, which will see 300,000 water bottles distributed to 171 front line relief organizations and homeless shelters this summer.

Steinhauer, who is founder of The Bargains Group on Caledonia Road, said Nestle Waters Canada has donated 1.5 million bottles of water over seven years and has been instrumental in making Project Water a success.

“Homelessness is increasing,” she said. “The heat just keeps going and going. A lot of homeless people have mental health issues and dehydration is a side effect of the medication they are on.”

Anne Marie Batten, a front line worker with Street Health, said Project Water is essential to the work the organization does with the city’s homeless population.

“We would never be able to meet the demand without Project Water,” she said.

The kick-off also served as the launch of Give Back Where You Live, a movement started by Steinhauer. Businesses allow employees to donate their time to volunteer for a cause of the employee’s choosing, in exchange for their expertise in their particular area.

“It’s all about corporate engagement,” Steinhauer said.

Lisa Kember, Constant Contact’s regional director for eastern Canada, said Give Back Where You Live is an opportunity for the corporation to be part of something big.

“Project Water is a hugely important initiative,” she said, adding eight partners from Constant Contact came out to volunteer.

Erin Skrypnyk-Bajor of salesforce.com said employees are given six days a year to volunteer.

“We have to try to engage employees somehow,” she said, adding 10 employees were on hand for the launch of Project Water. “I think our company loves these events. It’s great for morale and helping the community.”

Steinhauer also heads Project Winter Survival, which distributes winter survival kits to the homeless, including sleeping bags.

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