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Going sleepless to help the homeless – The Globe & Mail

The Gifts Project Water, Project Winter Survival

The Reason: To help the homeless

About 10 years ago, Jody Steinhauer was working on her annual Project Warmth program (now called Project Winter Survival) when she asked a fellow volunteer how homeless people cope in the summer. Ms. Steinhauer had always been geared toward the winter program, which provides people living on the streets of Toronto with sleeping bags and backpacks stuffed with supplies. She hadn’t given much thought to what homeless people face in the summer.

“I was told that more people die from dehydration in summer than cold in winter,” said Ms. Steinhauer, founder of Bargains Group Ltd., a Toronto discount clothing wholesaler. “I said, ‘Well, I know lots of people. We can fix that.’ “

She put together a group of volunteers and attracted major donors such as Nestlé WatersCanada, Canadian Springs and Danamark WaterCare Systems. With their help, she launched Project Water.

The program supplies thousands of bottles of water and filtration equipment to more than 100 homeless shelters and outreach programs across Toronto. Project Water has proven to be such a success – having delivered more than one million bottles so far – Ms. Steinhauer is considering taking it to other cities across Canada.

Meanwhile, the winter program, which receives more than $250,000 in donated products and about $40,000 in cash each year, distributes thousands of kits each winter in Toronto.

Ms. Steinhauer, 43, said she learned from her parents of the importance of “helping those who have less than you.”

She added that she is often asked how she balances running a business, having a family life and organizing two large charitable events. “I’m one of those people who don’t sleep a lot,” she explains. “I say to people, ‘So what’s the big deal? I get a little less sleep and have a little more bags under my eyes, but I help save people’s lives.’ It’s pretty rewarding.”

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Read the article online here: Going sleepless to help the homeless