Staying warm in the winter isn’t a luxury, it’s a matter of life and death. Of the more than 5,000 homeless people in Toronto, city officials estimate that up to 10% are forced to sleep on the streets on any given night due to a lack of shelter space. For these marginalized individuals, the tragedy of homelessness and desperation of living on society’s fringes is only exacerbated by the harsh, unforgiving realities of winter.
While exact statistics are not maintained, we know that too many people die alone on the city’s frigid streets. During a particularly cold stretch in January 2015, three people lost their lives to the elements, including one man who spent his final hours wearing only jeans and a t-shirt in a bus shelter in Dundas Square. It is difficult to reconcile this man’s fate with our city’s reputation for prosperity and compassion. We have to ask ourselves: how could this happen, and could anything have been done to help this man and others in situations like his?
OPTIMUS | SBR, through our award-winning CSR Committee, is once again joining forces with partners in the Not-for-Profit sector to deliver much needed winter relief to our local homeless community. In our second annual Drive for Warmth, OPTIMUS | SBR is partnering with Engage and Change to support the Project Winter Survival Initiative. Now in its 16th year, the project aims to raise funds to purchase and distribute survival kits to individuals that spend cold winter nights on the street.
Each winter survival kit costs approximately $100, and contains provisions that drastically reduce the chances of freezing to death due to a lack of shelter space during our cold nights. Provisions include a warm sleeping bag, dry socks, winter wear (hat, scarf, gloves), hygiene essentials, and rations of food and water. Last year, Engage and Change received over 11,000 requests for these lifesaving kits from agencies that help the homeless. This year, OPTIMUS | SBR is directing our holiday fundraising efforts to help offset the cost of these kits, and help Engage and Change better meet increasing demand.
At OPTIMUS | SBR we take our commitment to corporate social responsibility seriously, and we’re always looking for new opportunities to deliver positive impact in our community. But to reach our goal this year, we’re asking for your help. Please join OPTIMUS | SBR in our efforts to fundraise for this very worthy cause.
To make a donation today, please visit our Go Fund Me page.