Tis’ the season to give back to those who need it most

Photo by Madeline McInnis


It’s that time of the year again, the jolly season of lights and heavy loads of snow, but don’t let that completely distract you from an important aspect of this season.

Winter is undoubtedly the most brutal season in Canada, which leaves many people without homes out in the freezing temperatures. According to a current investigation by The Homeless Hub, the Waterloo Region has around 2,726 individuals that stay in emergency shelters which are mostly temporary for the homeless.

In order for programs to effectively work in aiding the homeless, the local community must provide support and understand the issues surrounding the problems that the less fortunate face. Over the years, homelessness has been slandered so much, which often results in people turning their backs on those in need.

There are a few misconceptions that follow homeless individuals, such as assuming drugs or a bad attitude  are reasons for their downfall or current position.

Homelessness in Canada happens because of a few important reasons. The lack of low income housing for the lower class is a reason most do not have a home. It has been reported that half of homeless individuals are actually employed but the problem is that they still cannot make ends meet.

The second reason surrounds the issue of deinstitutionalization, which means that mentally ill individuals make up a portion of the homeless population. These individuals need support, but with lack of family help and government aid to seek medication which is very needed, they are commonly discharged too quickly out into a community where they are expected to adapt.

There is also an option to donate a ‘starter kit’ which currently calls for items that are much needed such as frying pans, blenders, curtains, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes and more.

The justice system is another reason to the increase of this population. Prisoners are released back out into their community after serving their time but often fall victims to homelessness. It has been noted that prisoners that become homeless actually increases their chances of reoffending.

There has also been a rise of poverty in Canada because of living costs getting too high, as well. The unemployment rate is still in an awkward position, making it hard for individuals to make a living and progress successfully.

Local refugees in the Waterloo Region struggle with obtaining basic needs as well, such as access to adequate clothing and food. The government and various campaigns help with providing housing for these families, yet there is still a call for local citizens to pitch in and help donate.

There is no actual time limit to give, help and support, but this season is a particular time of the year where too much stock is put into receiving gifts, as opposed to giving back.

The Waterloo Shoebox Project is intended for women. These gifts are not shipped overseas, but locally, and are delivered to shelters around the region. This organization aims to help women in shelters that feel isolated and lonely, particularly during the holidays.

Monica Place is an organization that helps both women and children. Their website has provided a needs list which includes various necessities from household items to cooking utensils to pillows to lamps. There is also a call for infant teething toys, diapers, clothing and crib sheets. There are plenty more items that are listed and needed.

Toy donations can be given to The Wish Tree, The Salvation Army, The Tree of Angels, Stuffin’ Stockings and, with a bit of Google research, there are probably plenty more organizations out there to help give a child a perfect holiday gift.

Clothing and food donations can also be given to The Salvation Army. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region has currently provided a most needed food list on their website that consists of the following: canned meat and fish, canned pasta, canned stews, canned soup, canned fruit, hot cereals, tomato sauces, dried beans, rice and beans in sauce.

As for helping out local refugees, Waterloo Region Welcomes Refugees is an organization that allows for many options to help refugees in the area. Their website provides individuals with options to donate money, food, clothing, furniture and household goods. There is also an option to donate a ‘starter kit’ which currently calls for items that are much needed such as frying pans, blenders, curtains, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes and more.

Don’t hesitate to help, if you have what it takes and are able to make a difference, do it!

You don’t know someone’s story unless you ask.

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