“This is the most organized and well-stocked clothing program that I’ve ever been in”, says Derek who visits us regularly. “I’m always treated like someone special”.
Derek is just one of the many individuals who are appreciative of the service offered through the CRC Community Clothing Program, which is celebrating its second anniversary of operating out of the lower level of CRC’s new building at 40 Oak Street.
The adult clothing program is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays for men and Wednesdays and Fridays for women, from 9:30 – 12:30 with availability for emergency situations. Also part of the program is a shower service, which has been used 428 times since January and laundry, which has provided 385 loads since January.
Participants in the clothing program can select six free items per month, with some restrictions on hard-to-source items. Over the past 12 months, the program had 2,000 visits, with 57% of them being male, and 43% female. Each person gets personalized service and each leave with a bag of new items and a smile on their face.
The staff and volunteers in the program pride themselves in providing a safe and respectful space for the participants, which enriches their lives and helps them feel better about themselves. There is great fun and reward when they can find just what the participant is looking for.
“Thanks for the guitar that you found for me when my last place burned down” says Kevin. “It was the most important thing I owned”.
The program has been blessed with the donations of many friends and supporters. In the past 12 months, we have given out: 707 coats, 870 sweaters, 957 jeans, 800 pairs of underwear, 569 pairs of footwear, 174 sets of bedding, 1,264 household items, and 97 blankets. Why only 97 blankets? Because that’s all we had!
The winter of 2014 was a very difficult one in Toronto. The season started off with a devastating ice storm which knocked out the power in some areas for days and frigid temperatures lasted for months without reprieve. We had 36 cold alert days (compared to 9 the year before), and the desperate need for warm winter clothing was seen daily. We were fortunate enough to receive a United Way grant that allowed us to purchase 50 new winter coats, boots, long johns, mitts and gloves. We had lots of donations of hats and scarves, many of which were hand-knit. We could have given away lots more.
Sourcing items is always a challenge. Plus sizes for women, and men’s jeans in all sizes are always in short supply. Winter coats and boots for both men and women go out as soon as they come in. Running shoes are another high demand item for both men and women who need comfortable, supportive, functional footwear.
Along with clothing, we also love to receive toiletries (hotel sizes are ideal), clean bedding, towels, clocks, and kitchen items including dishes, utensils, small electrical appliances (kettles, toasters, coffee makers, blenders), and pots and pans. Some people who come to us are just starting out in new housing, or trying to improve what they already have.
If you would like to donate new or gently used clothing (items you’d be willing to give to a friend), contact the clothing program at email@example.com or 416-363-4234 ext 243. Items can be dropped off at 40 Oaks between 9 and 4 Monday to Friday.