Gift of Warmth

By TPSnews Staff, Toronto Police Service Published: 4:12 p.m. November 14, 2016

Police officers and residents slept rough in an effort to help clothe those who need it most this winter as well get exposed to the hardships endured by the homeless.

A large pile of bags with people standing in rear
A massive mound of donations gathered at 11 Division headed for social service agencies serving the homeless

Now in its third year, Warm For Winter is an event designed to not only address the hardship of homelessness in the city by collecting clothing and blankets to benefit low-income and homeless people, but also to invite police officers and community stakeholders to sleep outside of the station for the night to empathize with those who regularly “sleep rough.”

Over a 12-week period, the Division’s uniformed and civilian staff, along with Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) members and residents, worked together to collect used clothing for pre-winter donations to three local shelters. A total of 3,200 pounds of clothing, including hats, gloves, sleeping bags and blankets were collected this year, adding to a three-year total of almost 10,000 pounds.

On November 4, the sleep-out took place on the front grass mound of the Davenport Rd. police station. Seven members took part and braved the evening cold, including 11 Division CPLC Co-Chair Linda Martin and area City Councillor Sarah Doucette.

People in sleeping bags
Community members and police officers slept outside of 11 Division for the night to raise awareness of homelessness

“This initiative, now in its third year, follows a two-part approach,” said the Division’s unit commander Supt. Heinz Kuck. “The first part includes public education to illustrate the hardships and deprivation many homeless face, especially in the winter time. Apart from food and clothing, their needs include affordable housing, employment and social services support. Part of that public education piece involves members of the Division and community supporters sleeping outdoors for a night without shelter to experience that very hardship. The second part involves the collection and distribution of desperately needed winter clothing.”

On November 10, the massive pile of clothing was loaded up and delivered to the West Neighbourhood House Meeting Place, Toronto Streets to Homes Assessment and Referral Centre and the All Saints Church & Community Centre. Hundreds of Torontonians will benefit this winter from the programs gift of warmth.

A group of people, some in TPS uniform unloading a cube truck
Officers unload clothing at West Neighbourhood House
TPS crest watermark