A Christmas Carol, AIDS Vancouver Island, Care Kit Items, Charles Dickens, donate, get involved, honlessness, Jacob Marley, low income, marginalized, not for profit, Our Place Society, PEERS Victoria, poor, Project Connect, TAPS BC, The Greater Victoria Society to End Homelessness, Victoria Cool Aid Society, Victoria Dandelion Society, Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, vulnerable, Woodwyn Farms
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
These words have rattled around in my head of late, perhaps in part due to the Christmas season that is now in full swing around us, and perhaps in part to my desire to help my fellow neighbour.
I have no idea how to start, you see. I only see know that I must act. Gone are the days of wishful thinking. Behind me are the days of thinking it would be nice to give something to the homeless, I need to stand upright, get off the bench, and open the gate to the playing field. I need to step forward, step up, and do.
The thing is, you don’t need to know everything about something before you try it on. It’s okay to stumble with good intentions, but I did do some internet research as well, just so I was heading in the right direction.
My girlfriend and I are building, creating, or otherwise putting together packages for the homeless people in our city. We started with the idea that we enjoy making Christmas Crackers from scratch. We made some beautiful ones last year and I thought to save all my toilet paper roles for this season.
I am excited, but I thought, others may benefit more from our giving than family. It would be a kind gesture to hand them out to people that are left out of the underlying purpose of the holiday; which is spending time with others, family, loved ones, friends. We want them to know they are still a part of this collective, this neighbourhood, we can humankind and we can prove it by the gift of giving.
Now, Christmas Crackers are kind of small, and I wondered what we could put inside them. We each spent time thinking about what we might want if we were alone on the streets. I thought some candy, for immediate joy, and my gf thought of the small travel sized toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Then friends started to suggest asking a dentist for some, and perhaps a food store for a particular item of food, like nuts for a healthy treat. Then I thought, it might be a good idea to go on-line and see if there are lists provided by homeless agencies, and sure enough, there are.
In my city, Victoria, BC, Canada, there is a Not For Profit agency called The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and they manage ‘Project Connect‘, which is exactly that; a way to connect with the homeless. Here its what they say about it:
“Each fall the Coalition puts on Project Connect, a one-day service and information fair for those experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty. Attendees receive a BBQ lunch and a wide range of free services, including; care packs, medical attention, ID replacement, haircuts, pet care and much more.”
They also indicate all the items they collect for the care packages. That’s all I needed to see, to be informed on what is needed. Here is the list:
Most Needed Items:
- gloves & mittens
- toques and scarves
- toothbrushes, toothpaste & floss
- travel-sized hygiene products (shampoo, lotion, shaving cream, etc.)
- nail clippers & files
- combs and small brushes
- lip balm
- feminine hygiene products
- dog & cat food
- toilet paper
- non-perishable snacks (granola bars, juice boxes, etc.)
- USB flash drives
- pens, pencils, notepads
Pretty interesting to see what is needed: functional items, personal hygiene. We are just your normal everyday people that are trying to do something to help those in need. They are our kindred spirits and we need to acknowledge their existence and look them in the eye and say “hello”. So, as you can see, many of the items are bigger than a Christmas Cracker, so we are up scaling to a cigar box size, and wrapping that in a bandanna or scarf, so there is no wrapping paper waste.
Do you have any boxes or items you can send our way? Just give us a comment, if so.
If you feel uncomfortable with actually getting face to face with the homeless there is still a ton of things you can personally do, to help. Here are but a few:
- Donate to the local food bank. Often the local grocery store will have small donation slips that you can add to your bill in their support.
- Attend a charity function where the proceeds go to charity, or a food bank, or not for profit organisation.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local church on the days that they provide food for the homeless. This is a welcoming experience and eye opening one if it is your first time.
- Donate funds directly to the organisation of your choice. They can leverage cash funds with matching grants and donations, so it goes farther than us donating objects.
- Become involved in activities and events that need like-minded people to donate time. Many of the events that are put on throughout the year, to raise awareness and donations run solely on volunteer effort.
Here are some of the local service providers in Victoria. It’s worth a look to even just take a quick look in to each one to understand their role in the community. They offer a broad range of topics, not just homelessness:
Societies and Services:
- Victoria Cool Aid Society
- The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness
- Victoria Dandelion Society
- PEERS Victoria
- Victoria Sexual Assault Centre
- Our Place Society
- AIDS Vancouver Island
- Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) BC
- Woodwyn Farms
- The Homeless Hub
- The Committe to End Homlessness in Victoria
- Human Rights Watch
- Radical Health Alliance
- Stories From Life
- THAW Victoria (Not sure if it is still active)
- Vancouver Island Public Interest Resource Group, (VIPIRG)
My aim with this post is simply to spread the word about the vulnerable society that we see every day. they are a part of us, and we need to acknowledge them as such.
May you become just a little bit more enlightened about how you could potentially assist them, or learn more about them in your own community. A hero knows who sits at the side, who is at the edge of society, and that the rights of everyone are worth fighting for.