Out of the Cold (OotC) enters it’s 23rd year to help people who are homeless get through the harsh Niagara winter by providing shelter, food and clothing.
Once again Start Me Up Niagara (SMUN) has kicked off it’s OotC program for the Winter of 2019-2020. The meal and shelter program resumed November 3, 2019 and will run until March 31, 2019.
This year the overnight shelter portion of the program has increased from 35 beds to 50. They anticipate they will be full almost every night. Ada Storin, overnight coordinator for OotC, mentions that the previous winter 2018-2019 they were often over that number — closer to 50. Storin goes on to explain different shelters have different requirements. Some, like Southridge, are dry shelters, which means people can not go there if they are abusing substances. Some shelters are also gender-specific. There are sometimes beds available at another shelter but the person may not meet the requirements for that specific shelter, so the numbers are hard to stick to when there is nowhere else for them to go.
“You can’t account for the mom in the middle of the night who gets beat up by her husband or the kids that are running away. It is our job to try and help these people. Things happen in the middle of the night and it is cold out. We have to let them in … What are you going to do? It is a terrible choice to make,” said Storin.
OotC is always looking for donations to help individuals at a rough time in their lives. Right now with the cold weather setting in there is a great need for womens and mens underwear, mens coats, hats and gloves. They can always use socks but more often they need shoes and boots.
“We can’t survive without the donations and the volunteers. We have a big fundraiser the Coldest Night of the Year which is a walk downtown. Our target this year is $150,000 but sometimes people aren’t so willing to donate a lot. But I always say that’s fine, go to your closet and get rid of the stuff you don’t need anymore,” said Storin.
There are a few ways available to help those in need in the community.
Student Life at Brock is currently running a clothing drive in support of SMUN and OotC. From November 1, 2019 to Nov. 15 clothing items can be dropped off at the Student Life Involvement Commons at MCA204.
Any other time, donations can be dropped off at the St. Vincent de Paul Society store on 67 Queenston St. OotC gives $10 vouchers to people in need, to use towards items they require.
Interested individuals are able to take part in Coldest Night of the Year 2020. This event will be held on February 22, 2020 to raise funds for other programs that seek to help those in need in Niagara.
For more information, contact Start Me Up Niagara at startmeupniagara.ca, call 905-984-5310 or for Out of the Cold, contact Stolin at 905-685-5678. The official OotC shelter list can be found online at startmeupniagara.ca/out-of-the-cold-2019-20.