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Saving Lives with Project Winter Survival

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to help save 3,000 lives!

This past Saturday, with a great deal of support from sponsors, agencies and my team at The Bargains Group, we launched the 14th annual Project Winter Survival program at the Bargains Group warehouse on 890 Caledonia Road in Toronto. In just over 3 three hours, 200 volunteers packed 93,000 items into 3,000 “Survival Kits” for the homeless — an amazing accomplishment that everyone can be proud of!

I founded Project Winter Survival in 2000 due to the overwhelming demand by local agencies that struggle to help the homeless survive the frigid Toronto winters each year; and sadly, requests for Project Winter Survival kits continue to rise each year. We will never let this project end as long as there are homeless people on the street.

Each survival kit contains essential items such as sleeping bags, toques, gloves, food and personal-care products which will be handed to the homeless through front-line agencies including; The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the Scott Mission, Eva’s Place and other local agencies and shelters. The total value of these kits is approximately $500,000! The items they contain are basic necessities that many homeless simply don’t have access to, and I am so grateful for the growing support from sponsors such as Hain-Celestial Canada, CIBC, Loyalty One, Scotia Bank, RBC, BMO and many others who recognize the importance of Project Winter Survival.

What excites me every year about Project Winter Survival — and what makes it such a unique event — is the level of engagement it provides. Sponsors are invited to attend with a group to help assemble every kit. It offers an incredible opportunity for employees to get personally involved with a fantastic cause while giving back to their community firsthand. This leads to the event having an incredibly diverse group of participants: executives from four major banks, Toronto’s Chief of Police Bill Blair, corporate teams, and local students. Groups spend the day working closely together assembling each kit, bonding, socializing, having fun and enjoying the high-energy atmosphere., with the end result being an incredible 3,000 Survival Kits.

Trust me when I say the feeling you get from knowing you had a direct impact is overwhelming. These kits literally help save the lives of homeless all over the Greater Toronto Area. Taking part in Project Winter Survival is a memorable way to unite a group, and learn the importance of giving back.
The event also offers an opportunity for companies taking part to learn the importance of giving back directly. While extremely generous, it’s easy to hand a cheque to an organization and move on, but with Project Winter Survival the sponsors are able to engage in a level of corporate responsibility that stands out and give employees something to be proud of. It also gives the company’s clients a great sense of what their company stands for!

Sadly, there is a huge demand for these kits all across Canada. This year, through the support of our sponsor Hain-Celestial Canada, Project Winter Survival will launch in Vancouver for the first time at the end of January. This is a first step in our goal of having Project Winter Survival in every major Canadian city where it’s needed.

We have also had tremendous support from advertising agency BLAMMO Worldwide. At this Saturday’s “Distribution Day,” we will be premiering a PSA and radio campaign to help raise awareness for Project Winter Survival, something that wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work and passion of BLAMMO Worldwide.

I encourage you to visit Project Winter Survival for information and media coverage from Saturday’s event, and check out our “What is Project Winter Survival?” video detailing the event. Stay tuned for coverage of our Project Winter Survival’s “Distribution Day” which takes place this Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Read this article online at: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jody-steinhauer/homeless-winter-canada_b_2469049.html