If there is one thing that Canadians do well, it is complaining about the weather. The summers in much of Canada are more humid than the Caribbean and the winters are like a scene from Frozen- without the catchy songs.
But, while we might not love the cold, most of us can simply bundle up and head out into those -40 degrees days knowing that we only need to make it from the car or the subway into our home or office. There are others – thousands of women, men, teens, and children – who truly need to brave the cold when temperatures fall and have the risk of not making it through those frigid days and nights.
During one of the coldest weekends of the 2015/16 winter season, some fearless and amazing Wearable Therapy elves visited a number of locations throughout Toronto and Hamilton to pass out some warmth and a little hope to those who frequently get forgotten. We donated over 100 scarves, by placing them on street lamps, park benches, and anywhere someone in need might see them.
I had the chance to sit down and talk with one of the women who went out to place these scarves, Paula Dias.
Where did you get the inspiration for this project?
Homelessness is an issue that is very important to all of us working at Wearable Therapy and we wanted to find a way to make an impact during the coldest months of the year. One of the people on our team saw a news story about a group in Halifax who tied winter coats to telephone poles. We decided to go with scarves because we could donate a lot more and possibly help more people.
Why is homelessness an important issue for WT?
It started with the Tokii Teens at Risk Project. There are more than 3000 homeless teens in Toronto alone who spend their nights in the streets or in shelters, let alone throughout the rest of the country. We know that many of the teens that we have spoken to and have worked with throughout Teens at Risk want nothing more than the basics in life and realized that until they get those things, they will not have the chance to deal with issues like abuse or addiction and improve their situation. So, we believe this is an issue that we need to tackle now.
What do you hope the Scarf Project accomplished?
Well, first we hope that it was able to provide a little warmth to the people who found the scarves. It was a really cold weekend and I can’t imagine being out there without the proper clothes. So, if we were able to make even a few people a little safer, that is worth it.
But, also, I hope that it showed people that they are noticed and cared for in this world. Many people look away when they see homeless people struggling instead of offering their help and we wanted to show that not everyone is going to do that. I hope that other people saw the scarves and maybe thought of what they could do to help someone in need.
Did you learn anything from participating in this event?
I was shocked at how many people live on the streets and all the young people- it surprised me that people can walk right by them and not even look at them. When we handed out the scarfs it made them uncomfortable as they figured we wanted something in return. At St. Patrick’s Church, we saw teens coming out with some food from the food bank- and we asked the church if they wanted some scarfs and they were so happy.
What can others do to help homelessness in their area?
Just take the time to acknowledge those people instead of turning away or pretending that you can’t see or hear them. A smile and a warm greeting go a long way. If you want to do more, most cities have food banks that always need volunteers throughout the year. Don’t wait until the holidays to give back.
Wearable Therapy is always looking for ways to affect positive change and give back. Know of a project we might want to get involved in? Email us at CEO@tokii.com.
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