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Demand for survival kits grow as winter blows in

For 11 years, Jody Steinhauer has helped the homeless stay a little warmer during frigid temperatures through Project Winter Survival.

Steinhauer, founder and president of The Bargains Group Ltd. at 890 Caledonia Rd., has headed the purchasing and distribution of kits for Project Winter Survival, which assists the city’s homeless with warmth and essential supplies during winter months.

Project Winter Survival works with some 90 agencies, including The Red Cross, Salvation Army and local homeless shelters to distribute the 2,500 kits every January.

Most of the 32 items which make up the kits are acquired by The Bargains Group through corporate contacts, but this year an appeal is being made to the public for backpacks, knapsacks and sports bags.

“It’s worse than it’s ever been,” Steinhauer said of survival kit demand.

While getting most of the items that make up the kits aren’t usually a problem, backpacks and sleeping bags are rarely donated, she said.

“We only have until December 23rd to get cash donations in because we need the money to buy backpacks and sleeping bags,” Steinhauer said.

Along with monetary donations, Steinhauer is asking the public to drop off the items on weekends until Dec. 23 at The Bargains Group to receive a free Vancouver Olympics tuque.

“We need about 2,000 of them,” she said of the backpacks. “We need about $25,000 to hit our monetary goal. Kits are put together over two weeks in January and delivered at the end of that month or early February.”

Steinhauer noted a cash donation of $25 will provide one kit valued at $165. Tax receipts are issued for donations of at least $25.

Since conception, Project Winter Survival has assembled and distributed over 10,000 kits to Greater Toronto Area agencies.

To donate visit www.projectwintersurvival.org