The Toolbox Project, which provides packages for homeless and impoverished men has begun its third year of service in the Niagara region.
Run by Brock alumnus James Symons, the project compiles care items into drawstring bags that are then distributed to men in the community experiencing poverty. Since its launch the project has partnered with Brock University and Socks for Change — a partnership that will remain in effect. This year the toolbox project will also be partnering with a number of Brock alumni, fraternities and sororities.
“We’re very similar to The Shoebox Project for women, but for men in Niagara. We provide toiletries, winter accessories and socks through our partnership with Socks for Change,” said Symons. “We also put something fun in each of the packages like a snack or candy and then we distribute them to men either before or on Christmas day, so they have something to look forward to during the holidays.”
Symons started the project because he felt there was a lack of projects that catered to providing care packages to men in the Niagara during the holiday season. Over the past two years the project has provided over 900 packages to men in need.
“With the number of projects that cater to providing women with gifts, I wanted to do something that included men, too. I saw the need during my time volunteering at shelters and I just wanted to show them love and care in a really impactful way,” said Symons.
There will be a number of drop-box locations around Brock’s main campus where students are encouraged to donate toiletries and other essential items for men. Students are also able to donate directly to Socks for Change and request that their donation go towards The Toolbox Project.
The Toolbox Project will be hosting a comedy night fundraiser at Isaac’s Bar & Grill on Tuesday, November 19, with doors opening at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and come at a cost of $15. The proceeds will go towards the running of the project and purchasing the materials necessary to provide packages for as many men as possible.
Symons has also started two other initiatives in the region and hopes to one day turn his projects into national efforts.
“We started a spring project last year for homeless youth where we were able to donate over 90 bags thanks to St. Francis High School. We also do a summer project called ‘Poverty doesn’t take a vacation’ where we donate toiletries, tents and sleeping bags,” said Symons. “The projects and support from the community have been absolutely amazing so our long-term goal is to expand into Toronto and then keep expanding from there.”
While initiatives like The Toolbox Project do not completely solve issues faced by homeless and impoverished men, they provide an avenue for residents to help combat some of those issues. The support and contribution of each community member has a tangible impact on men in the region.
The Toolbox Project continues to look for partners and volunteers to help run the initiative. For more information about the project and volunteering, interested individuals are encouraged to reach out to James Symons at email@example.com or follow the organization’s Facebook page, Tool Box Niagara.