Day 9: Share the gift of warmth

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Snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures are coming soon. While for some of us this weather provides a mild inconvenience when we leave the comfort of our homes, for people with no fixed address or who are living on low income, the weather can be a serious challenge. Today is day 9 of the 12 Days for Good, and the theme is giving the gift of warmth. This could mean the warmth of having somewhere indoors to spend the night, the warmth that comes with being part of a community, or the warmth that comes from wearing a pair of handmade mittens.

12 Days - PIFG

When it comes to staying warm during cold winter nights in Waterloo Region, Out of the Cold is what comes to mind. The Out of the Cold program has been operating since 1999, with partner churches offering a meal and a place to sleep to people who are homeless during the winter months. This program is a lifesaver, allowing people access to warmth when temperatures are dangerously low. Out of the Cold programs also offer a sense of community—one man who comes in to the Emergency Food Hamper Program told us that during Christmas time he goes around to Out of the Cold programs and community meals because he feels lonely in his apartment, and prefers to be with others. For him, Out of the Cold is more about warmth of spirit than anything else.

You can donate your time, or some money, to Out of the Cold. Visit their website for details.

In the spirit of sharing warmth, St. John’s Kitchen, part of the Working Centre, is hosting a Free Suit Sale today from 3-5 pm. For many who are on social assistance and want to present themselves with dignity, having a suit that fits can be huge in terms of building self confidence. If you’re on a limited income that has to go towards rent and food primarily, nice clothing quickly moves down the priority list. With a nice suit, people can feel confident going to job interviews, Christmas parties, or just look really great walking down the street. All suits are free and are available in all sizes, and women’s dress clothing is available as well.

Another way you can share the gift of warmth is through your craft skills. When we had bags of yarn donated to our program, one woman took it all to her grandmother who knit it into beautiful hats, mittens, and scarves, which she then donated to us to give out in our lobby. She loves sharing her knitting, and donates mittens and hats to many organizations around town. I don’t know how she knits so incredibly fast, but within about a week she had made us over 30 pairs of mittens and hats, which are keeping many children and adults warm this winter. If you’re inspired, maybe you could break out some of the old needles and knit your first scarf of the season! If you sew, you could always make a few blankets or something simple out of old fabric. Donations like this are all the more special because they are handmade.

Outset

This time of year can be cold and lonely for many people who maybe don’t have family around, or cannot afford good winter clothing for their children. By supporting community meal programs, the Christmas Hamper program, or winter clothing programs, you can make a real difference in how people approach the incoming season. Whether you help by volunteering to cook a meal for Out of the Cold, donating your skills by knitting or sewing warm winter clothing, or simply by donating money to a meal program you support, you’ll be sharing the warmth with someone who needs it, and maybe feeling a little warmer yourself.

What other ways are you sharing the warmth this year? Leave us a comment, or tweet at #12daysforgood.

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