As cooler weather begins to take hold, the ongoing Covid19 pandemic continues to significantly impact the manner in which we go about our everyday lives. The effects exacerbate significantly for those currently experiencing poverty and homelessness. Food and housing insecurity are on the rise. With an estimated 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Toronto right now, an increase of approximately 15% from last year’s stats. Unfortunately, that number is expected to increase due to the economic impacts of Covid-19.
Now more than ever, there is a need for those able to help those less fortunate than them. In response, Ve’ahavta has created an innovative virtual volunteerism program – The Ve’ahavta Project: Act to Impact, in hopes of inspiring the public to get involved and enable them to make a real difference from the safety of their own home. Last year marked the launch of the campaign, where hundreds of volunteers gathered together in person, creating a variety of items for people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness, essentials such as mattresses, blankets, and food packages. The event secured 400 volunteers and $500,000 was raised.
This year, due to Covid-19 restrictions and with the health and safety of all involved in mind, the program is going virtual. This year’s program includes a variety of elements designed to truly engage with volunteers. In addition to fundraising, participants will be able to choose from four different activities including cooking, baking, blanket making, and creating harm reduction kits. Participants will also learn about some of the core issues that cause and exacerbate homelessness – Affordable housing, food security, mental health, and substance abuse. The virtual campaign will be hosted through ZOOM, and starts Sunday, November 8, at 2 PM EST.
“This won’t be your typical “stare-at-the-screen Zoom meeting,” says Brandon Lablong, Director of Development, Ve’ahavta. “In addition to participating in the activities in real-time, participants will be able to engage live with facilitators, educators, and fellow volunteers. They will also have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Ve’ahavta’s clients who have faced hardship and be inspired by their personal stories on how they transformed their lives,” says Lablong.
“We know that people are looking for ways to actively help those in need, but aren’t sure how to during a pandemic when they have to stay home to keep themselves and others safe,” says Cari Kozierok, Ve’ahavta’s Executive Director. “Virtual volunteerism is a great opportunity to engage in some productive hands-on activities with the family, to make supplies that will be immediately useful for people living on the streets of Toronto and others experiencing homelessness. People will also learn the key issues that contribute to homelessness in this city and how they can make a real change by volunteering for our other programs that provide training and assist people to move onto employment or further their education,” says Kozierok.
In addition to the event, Ve’ahavta is making it very accessible for the public to donate to initiatives that directly benefit those in need. For example, as little as $5 can be donated to the 10 x 10 underwear challenge which provides this essential item to keep individuals healthy, warm, and feeling positive. Bedrock Clothing is sponsoring this challenge and will match people’s donation pair for pair with a goal of donating 10,000 pairs!
Event DetailsSunday, November 8, 2020, at 2 PM on ZOOMInterested participants can sign up HEREVolunteers and Ve’ahavta program participants will create blankets, food packages, and harm reduction kits for those experiencing poverty and homelessness.
For more information about Ve’ahavta and The Ve’ahavta Project, see veahavta.org and https://veahavta.akaraisin.com/ui/tvp20/about
Ve’ahavta is a Jewish humanitarian organization dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths and backgrounds who have been marginalized by poverty and hardship. Ve’ahavta mobilizes volunteers in meaningful, hands-on experiences to fulfill our collective responsibility to care for our neighbour.