Fall is setting in at that means winter is just around the corner. Between the weather getting colder and Christmas approaching we know that donations are going to start to roll in at a rapid pace. With this being our busiest donation time of the year by far, we thought it would be helpful to both our generous donors and our staff who handle the donations to share some more information. Let’s call it Winter Donations 101.
In winter we expand our hours at the Armoury Resource Centre to provide a safe space for our youth to seek refuge from the cold. Despite this, we know that many youth will spend hours upon hours outside and will need proper winter gear to avoid serious medical issues like frostbite, trench foot, and hypothermia.
Things we always need throughout winter: winter jackets, waterproof winter boots, gloves, balaclavas, thermal underwear, warmer clothing, warm socks, self-activating heating pads (like HotHands), lip balm, thermal bottles, headlamps/flashlights, and thermal emergency blankets.
When donating used clothing or goods please ensure that these items are still functional and presentable. For example, a winter jacket that has a broken zipper is not effective at helping keep warm and our youth do not have the funds to have clothing patched or repaired.
Gently used items will generally go directly into our donation rooms for the youth to access right away. It is very helpful if clothing is donated washed and folded, in a recycling bag or box that is clearly marked “washed”. New items, like clothing with tags still on, will generally be put away for use as Christmas gifts. If you are donating both, you could separate them for us and mark the new items as “Christmas gifts”. We do not give used items as Christmas gifts, with the exception of electronics.
Many of our youth come from families who have struggled with poverty and did not have the luxury of showering their children with gifts. Christmas at YESS is sometimes the first time they have ever received multiple gifts. It is incredibly heart-warming to see their faces light up, usually accompanied by a wave of disbelief. These moments of joy and the feelings of gratitude carry on long after as the youth continue to enjoy their gifts throughout the year, and they are only possible because of the overwhelming generosity of people like yourself.
If you are considering purchasing Christmas gifts for our youth and would like some guidance on how to ensure your gifts are most effective, we have compiled a list of items that are most frequently asked for. You can rest assured that if you donate something on this list it will go to a youth who has specifically requested that item and will be incredibly grateful!
We will collect and sort all the gifts, and then we have each youth create a wish list. Over 100 youth will be accessing YESS around Christmas time. Once we have all of those wish lists, we go through our collection of goods to customize presents for each and every youth. As you can imagine, this is a ton of work. You can help us in easing this process by removing or scratching off price tags and by not bundling presents. We know it’s super fun to create little gift packs, but in order to customize and ensure that gifts are fairly distributed, it is much easier for us to separate everything. This means if you and a group of friends are making 20 care packages for Christmas, rather than making 20 bags with one of each items in them, instead make one bag of toothbrushes, one bag of soap, one bag of shaving cream, one bag of writing pads, one bag of card games, etc. It’s also very helpful if gift cards aren’t hidden in other items: we strive for fairness and that is easier when we know what’s going out.
You have now graduated Winter Donations 101! Thank you for reading this and taking these ideas into consideration when donating goods this season. We are constantly blown away by the outpouring of love for our youth over winter and we can tell you firsthand from being with the youth over winter and Christmas that they truly appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.