Winter boots and clothing found its way to those who need it most thanks to a Divisional Policing Support Unit initiative.
The fourth Annual Winter Boot Drive, spearheaded by Constable Patty Retsinas in partnership with Heroz for the Homeless, collected 600 pairs of men's boots, over 200 pairs of children's boots and over a thousand pieces of clothing for families. Donations were collected by leaving drop boxes at police facilities.
“While dropping off donations at a shelter, newcomers were walking off the street in T-shirts, shivering," Retsinas said. "I outfitted them with boots and coats. It was so heartwarming to be able to actually witness people in need making use of the donations and how appreciative they were.”
The initiative concluded December 14 with a dozen youth and parents assisting in the delivery to the Fred Victor Shelter in 51 Division. The group heard from shelter staff about how they help the homeless and were provided a tour of the facility. The group, including Police and Auxiliary officers then walked the streets and handed out new pairs of thermal socks and mittens to homeless people.
Agencies who benefited included the Christie Refugee Centre, United Way Hostel, the Fred Victor Shelter, the Maxwell Meighan Centre, the Salvation Army, the John Howard Society, Reintegration Centre, Metropolitan Community LGBTQ Church, Ernestine Women Shelter and Canadian Centre of Victims of Torture.
Amber Kellen, Director of Community Initiatives, Policy and Research at the John Howard Society of Toronto, said the donations were critical.
“Without the donations made by the Toronto Police Service Boot Drive, we would have no way of securing the number of items that we received," Kellen said. "Keeping warm and dry is critical and your contribution makes a big difference in our ability to assist those in need with some essential items over the winter months.”