Toolbox Niagara is finishing up another successful campaign collecting winter essentials for the homeless.
Donated goods are used to create ‘toolbox’ kits that are then distributed to local shelters and outreach organizations.
On Thursday morning, Toolbox founder James Symons was joined by representatives of CAA Niagara to drop off 25 kits at Niagara EMS headquarters.
“There’s been a lot of new partners this year,” says Symons, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “It’s always been my vision for everyone to come together.”
For their 7th annual campaign, Toolbox went all-in on a partnership with CAA Niagara.
Their Vice President of Marketing, Marrianne Wilson, tells ThoroldToday that the organization’s commitment to Toolbox figures into the Light up the Holidays program that sees employees donate their time to causes close to their hearts.
“We email everybody in the organization to ask what their team would like to do this year,” Wilson explains. “We get everybody to submit and then we send out this four page document to our entire company and say: ‘This is how you can participate this year.’”
Jay, who is a driver with CAA Niagara, has been involved with Toolbox for the last four years.
“It was Jay who came to us and asked ‘Can we help more this year?,’” says Wilson. “So then we met with James and asked ‘What do you need?’”
The partnership has certainly exceeded Symons' wildest expectations.
“They hosted us last Saturday for our assembly night,” he says. “We did 400 bags in an hour, so very fast and efficient. We had a great time, we wore ugly sweaters, we had food. They also sold gloves at their branches and the money came right back to Toolbox. We’re very thankful for them.”
The Thorold Senior Citizens Association also got involved this year, and the Craft Ladies at the seniors’ centre knitted numerous hats for the homeless.
“They stepped up the knitting, but also collecting stuff, and donating wool,” says Symons. “It was a beautiful experience.”
Symons can hardly believe how much Toolbox Niagara has grown over the last seven years.
“Today we’ll deliver our 6000th toolbox, which is exciting,” he says. “I think it takes time getting recognized. This year it was everyone coming on board.”
While he will spend the coming month delivering the kits to local organizations, Symons has already started preparing for next year's campaign.
“We’re planning ahead,” he says. “Everyone who wants to get involved next year, you’re welcome. We’re going strong.”