Winter Giving 101

We are starting to prepare for the holidays, and we know you are too! We have the extreme good fortune of having a community that is excited to provide during this time of year, so 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.

The structure of our programs has changed significantly, so the times and places that we accept donations have also changed. Please follow these instructions so that youth in crisis and the staff who support them are not disrupted.



Donations will be accepted at our Armoury location, at 10310 85 Avenue.


There is a parking lot at this location. Please use the back/north door.



December 4-22, Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM


Thursday, December 14, open until 7PM

Saturday, December 16, 12PM-4PM

Thursday, December 21, open until 7PM




Things we always need throughout winter are: 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.



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!

Quality ear buds or headphones

Good to know: Items from dollar stores break after a couple of uses, so one $20 pair is more beneficial than 5 $4 pairs.


Brand name sweatpants and hoodies

Good to know: Men’s and women’s, especially sizes M and L. Please avoid red or grey colours due to implied gang affiliation.


Stylish sneakers and high tops (Converse, Nike, Adidas, Vans, etc.)

Good to know: For men’s, especially sizes 10-13; and for women’s, especially sizes 7-10.


Waterproof gloves

Good to know: A lot of youth are outside for long hours in freezing conditions. A high quality pair of waterproof gloves/mitts goes a long way to avoiding frostbite.


General winter gear

Good to know: Like all youth, those who access YESS want to look trendy, even in winter, so they are always grateful for stylish jackets, toques, and boots (especially sizes 10-14). Lean towards snowboarder style if you’re not sure what to choose.


Reusable water bottles and travel mugs

Good to know: Again, quality is important here as cheap bottles can leak into backpacks and soak belongings.


Smart phones, new or gently used

Good to know: Ideally compatible with a pay-as-you-go plan.


Laptops, new or gently used

Good to know: We have a lot of youth working on finishing high school or starting post-secondary. Laptops are very helpful in creating consistency for schoolwork. Laptops must be less than a year old, with a receipt, to help us avoid refurbishing/disposal costs.


Charging cables and battery packs, new or gently used

Good to know: Any variety welcome, especially portable chargers.



Good to know: Smaller backpacks are good to have for lighter loads, but for youth who may be experiencing homelessness, heavy duty, camper-style backpacks are invaluable.


Gift cards

Good to know: Popular options are Walmart, 7-Eleven, Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, Sephora, Tim Hortons, McDonalds, etc.


Portable gaming systems, new or gently used

Good to know: Age appropriate for 15-24 year olds. With games, if possible.


Quality art supplies


Quality chocolates and candy


Please do not wrap Christmas gifts, as we will have to unwrap them to sort through all the donations and match items to each youth’s wishlist. You can help us by making your donation clearly organized, removing price tags, and not tucking smaller items like gift cards into larger items.



If you are interested in donating food this season, it is most important to our kitchen team that they know what to expect and when. Please contact them ahead of time at or calling 780.468.7070 ext. 238.

We receive a lot of turkeys during this time of year, so if you could help us diversify food donations, that would be amazing! For example, chicken, fish, pork, beef, other proteins, snacks, ready meals, or pantry items/dry goods are all good choices.

We can accept:

  • Donations that have been schedule with the kitchen team ahead of time. Donations arranged with the kitchen team includes perishables, extra items from catering functions that haven’t been served, etc.
  • Non-perishables that are unopened.


For example:

  • any non-perishable pantry foods, like canned foods, dried goods, granola bars, juice, etc. that haven’t been opened.
  • groceries with a receipt for a charitable tax donation.
  • perishable foods from gardens, catering companies, leftovers from events, etc. that have been pre-approved by the kitchen team.
We cannot accept:

  • Perishable foods that haven’t been pre-arranged with the kitchen team.
  • Food that has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen.
  • Food that is in black garbage bags, not wrapped, or have been tampered with.
  • Food that has been at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.


For example:

  • home-baked sweets and meals
  • opened products (pantry goods, perishables, etc.)
  • bread in black garbage bags

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.


If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with our team, please call 780.468.7070 or email