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Helping the Homeless at Christmas

Our company, Furnishr, is a furnishing company. In other words, and our clients have the privilege of being housed and warm. This holiday season, too many people are unhoused or struggling to pay rent. It is indeed a luxury to even have a house to furnish! 

So we have put together a list of organizations in Canada. They all focus on helping the homeless and advocating for affordable housing.

Because if you’re like us, as the holiday season comes around, you feel a desire to give back in some way. After all, we’ve all had the experience of buying something and walking right past someone less fortunate.

So if you have a safe and warm place to celebrate the holidays, we hope you’ll consider donating. Helping the homeless is easier than you think.

Homeless person on the street

Making a Long-Term Impact on Homelessness

It must be said that a one-time donation is nice, but it doesn’t really impact long-term outcomes. You could get involved with a community housing initiative near you. Or get involved with advocating for tenant rights and affordable housing. Talk to your local lawmakers about their policies. Ask them how they are helping the homeless and managing the housing crisis. In addition, keep in mind that the temporary influx of well-meaning volunteers around the holidays can actually be really challenging.

Want to work at a soup kitchen for a single day during the holidays? Sounds good at first, but that means that someone has to teach you how to do it. Firstly, they have to give you a volunteer orientation, and work to your schedule. Secondly, it’s a small payoff of just a few hours’ work. If that’s all you can offer, great. But otherwise, a more impactful way to help is to become a more long-term volunteer.

At a minimum, smile and engage with the homeless folks you see! Carry gift cards to places like Tim Horton’s, or TTC tokens to give away. The winter holidays are an especially hard time to be unhoused. This is true because of the cold and also cultural expectations around family and joy. 

This holiday season, far too many shelters are at full capacity. But no matter where you are, we can make an impact!

Here are the four housing organizations we recommend most.

  1. FURNITURE BANK TORONTO
    This is a registered charity and social enterprise which redistributes gently-used furniture and housewares. In other words, donors in the community give items, and families and individuals experiencing furniture poverty receive them. Their clients include women and children leaving shelters, the formerly homeless, and newcomers and refugees to Canada. Revenues are generated through their furniture removal service, which is run as a social enterprise. This funds their charitable activities as they work to end furniture poverty “one sofa and one family at a time.” Above all, their vision is a world in which everyone has access to a furnished home.
  2. WIGWAMEN
    Founded in 1972, Wigwamen Incorporated, a non-profit and charitable organization, is Ontario’s oldest and largest urban Aboriginal housing provider. As a result, Wigwamen is committed to providing decent, safe and affordable housing to thousands of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families, singles and seniors. It shouldn’t be the case that settlers on native land are housed whereas native peoples are not. 
  3. FIFE HOUSE
    This organization proudly provides secure and affordable supportive housing and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Toronto Area. Fife House recognizes that access to secure and affordable housing is a key determinant for the health and well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS. As a result, they offer supportive and transitional housing as well as homeless outreach. They accept donations, and they also host many drag events to raise money for housing.
  4. OUT OF THE COLD
    This is an interfaith program that strives to respond in a meaningful way to the basic physical needs of shelter, food and warm clothing for the less fortunate members of our society. In addition, it also responds to the deeply human needs of compassion, dignity and feelings of self-worth. Out of The Cold Foundation supports the Out of the Cold participating agencies. These include churches, synagogues and other groups that provide safe havens for the poor and homeless of our society. You can support them with cash donations or with warm clothing for the homeless.

homeless shelter

Below are other organizations throughout Canada which focus on affordable housing, furnishing, or sheltering people from violence.

Food Bank

Furnishing

Used Furniture Store

ReStore via Habitat for Humanity
Niagara Furniture Bank

Affordable Housing and Low-Income Housing

ONTARIO

All-Together Affordable Housing in Belleville
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services
Blue Door Shelters
Cambridge Shelter Corporation
Homeless Connect Toronto
House of Friendship in Kitchener
Houselink Community Homes 
Inn from the Cold 
Mainstay Housing
Matthew House Ottawa for refugees
Multifaith Housing Initiative in Ottawa
Out of the Cold Foundation
Parkdale Neighborhood Land Trust
Performing Arts Lodge for sheltering artists who have low income, age or disability
Redwood Park Communities in Barrie
Romero House for refugees in Toronto
St. Vincent Place Men’s Shelter in Sault Ste. Marie
The Inn of the Good Shepherd in Sarnia 
Toronto Community Hostel
Wigwamen Incorporated
Windsor Homes Coalition Inc.
Yonge Street Mission
Youth Without Shelter

ALBERTA

Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association
Horizon Housing Society 

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Bowser Seniors Housing Society
Journey Home Community for refugee claimant families
Kaslo Housing Society 
Lookout Housing + Health Society 
M’akola Housing Society on Vancouver Island
Neighborhood Housing Society in Vancouver
Pacifica Housing
Port Alberni Shelter Society
Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby
Squamish Helping Hands 
Tivka Housing Society 

MANITOBA

The WestEnd Commons in Winnipeg
Today House in Steinbach 

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Habitat for Humanity NWT

* You may notice that Salvation Army isn’t anywhere on our list. Their organization has a history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. As a result, we feel there are better, more local choices to support with your cash and your time.

Shelters

Woman looking out the window

 

Women who are escaping domestic violence are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless during the wintertime. But by donating to a women’s shelter, you can help women and children find a safe place to spend the holiday.

ALBERTA

Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society
Odyssey House Women’s Shelter 
Rowan House 

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Amata Transition House Society
Campbell River & North Island Transition Society
Greater Victoria Women’s Shelter Society

ONTARIO

Exterior of Anduhyaun

The exterior of an Anduhyaun building. The word means “our home” in Ojibwe.

Anduhyaun Inc. in Toronto
Bethesda House in Durham 
Cornerstone Housing for Women in Ottawa
Couchiching Jubilee House in Orillia
Dawn House in Kingston 
Leeds and Grenville Interval House
SafeHope Home in Ajax
The Women’s Center Grey Bruce Inc. in Owen Sound 
Women’s Habitat in Toronto
Wyndham House for youth in Guelph
YES Shelter for Youth and Families

NEW BRUNSWICK

Women in Transition House in Fredericton

NOVA SCOTIA

Angels Asking For Donation

Adsum for Women and Children
Juniper House
Third Place Transition House

QUEBEC

Assistance aux femmes in Montreal
La Sortie / The Way Out 
Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal
West Island Women’s Shelter

Organizations which are helping the homeless who are affected by alcohol and drug dependencies, or who experience mental health challenges or a disability

Main Street Project

Alpha House Society in Calgary 
Alternative Residences Alternatives in New Brunswick 
Main Street Project in Winnipeg
Cape Breton Community Housing Association in Nova Scotia 
Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society in BC 
Home on the Hill Supportive Housing in Ontario
House of Compassion in Toronto 
Accessible Housing Calgary
Safe Families Canada

Hospital home-away-from-home housing

Mark Preece Family House

For people affected by disasters

ShelterBox Canada 


As you can see, this is quite a long list. It is sad to realize that these organizations formed in response to the needs of millions of people who find themselves vulnerable to homelessness.

Our hope is that we reach a time when shelters are no longer necessary. We imagine a world where everyone has access to a safe, warm home. As a result, the organizations listed above are highlighted because they’re helping to build that world by helping the homeless.

Whatever your reason for giving this season, we wish you peace and joy.

Categories
Furnishing 101

The Most Practical Housewarming Gifts for Christmas Season

Christmas is a time when you are much more likely to visit friends and family. Sometimes this may also tie in with them moving to a new home. Why not combine the two things and pick them out a Christmas housewarming gift?

Stuck for ideas on what to buy? Here are some of the amazing 5 Christmas Housewarming Gift Ideas that you could buy as a treat for the new homeowner during the festive season.

1. A Cleaning Supplies Cake

Cleaning supplies might not always sound like the most exciting housewarming gift, but in actual fact, they can prove to be the most useful. Every new homeowner needs new household supplies, so this is a practical housewarming gift. You can also make them that little bit more interesting by creating a cake effect with them. Additionally, you can add in your own cleaning favorites and share your expertise.

2. Christmas Personalized Ornaments

personalized baubles

If the family have only just moved into their house right before Christmas, then chances are that they might not have had time to dig out their decorations. Why not treat them to not only a variety of Christmas decorations but make them personal? This will mean that they can give their new home a festive touch and have a personal keepsake too. This is a special time as Christmas is a time of traditions. Who knows, maybe your ornaments will be the start to their long-lasting tradition of hanging decorations onto the Christmas tree.

3. Bring a Christmas Housewarming Dinner

dinner-meal-friends

It may sound like a strange gift, but if you have been spending the past few weeks moving home, then chances are that they haven’t had a chance to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Why not give them an amazing treat by cooking dinner and taking it with you? You can warm it up and then all eat it together. Nothing like settling into a home like a big welcome feast!

You can an additional sentimental touch by providing a cookbook and fill some of the pages with some of your favorite home-made recipes. That way, the new homeowners will have a cookbook to fill with all their own recipes, but will also get to the chance to enjoy your recipes as well. Besides, you’re not going to be coming by with dishes all the time.

4. A Christmas Wreath for the Front Door

Christmas Wreath on Door

A great way to make a home feel more festive is to put up some decorations. One popular decoration that makes for a great gift is a Christmas wreath. It could be a fresh one or perhaps one that could be used time and time again. Nothing says welcome home like a big ol’ wreath greeting you at the front of the door. It’s a nice touch to the home and chances are the new homeowners have not thought of purchasing one.

5. A Photo Frame

photo-wall

One of the ways that you can make your house feel like a home is to ensure that you display photos all around it. You can never have too many photo frames, so why not choose this as a housewarming gift? If you stick to a relatively simple design, then you can be sure that it will fit in with their home no matter what type of interior they have opted for. You can also include a photograph of one of your favorite memories with the homeowner. If it’s too difficult to pick just one, why not gift an entire customized photo album filled with your favorite memories. The Christmas Housewarming is a great opportunity to sit down and reminisce over past memories. Be sure to leave some pages open so that the homeowner can fill it with more memories to come.

There are so many different gifts that you can buy for a Christmas housewarming treat. No matter which gift you opt, one of the best things that you can do is simply go and visit them in their new home and bring them a bit of your own festive cheer!

Want even more ideas? Check out the list that Sara Tardiff put together for Elle decor this year!

>> Comment down below what your favorite housewarming gift was or what your practical go-to gift item is! We are excited to read them all. If you would like to read about how to DIY makeover your room for less, read our next article.