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7th annual Toolbox Niagara campaign well underway

The organization has teamed up with local CAA branches for their biggest campaign yet; 'We’re seeing a lot of growth'

The 7th annual Toolbox Niagara campaign is well underway and the organization’s founder James Symons says that the local community has been more supportive than ever this year.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth,” Symons tells ThoroldToday. “Everyone says it’s my project but it’s really not. At the end of the day, it’s the community’s.”

Each fall, Toolbox Niagara sets up collection bins at several locations throughout Thorold, such as the Thorold Public Library, City Hall, and the TCAG, to collect winter essentials. Donated goods are used to create ‘toolbox’ kits that are then distributed to the local homeless population.

This year’s Toolbox campaign officially kicked off on Sept. 27 with a pasta night at Club Belvedere. 

Symons says the event was a smashing success, and through the generosity of patrons, Toolbox Niagara was able to provide 50 homeless people with a meal as well.

To keep momentum going, Toolbox is organizing a comedy fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 10 at the Grantham Lions Club in St. Catharines.

“There will be an opportunity to pie me in the face,” Symons says. “There will also be an auction and the money will go to Toolbox.”

The organization has also found a community partner in CAA this year.

“They reached out to us and said they wanted to help,” says Symons. “They donated 500 pairs of gloves to us and they’re selling gloves at all their branches and that money goes back to Toolbox.”

CAA will help with distributing the ‘toolbox’ kits to the homeless population as well.

“Their vehicles will be equipped with ‘toolboxes,’” explains Symons. “They’re out more than us. They see more. If they see somebody that is homeless they’ll be able to help them. It’s a big partnership.”

Local CAA branches have also set up collection bins for people to donate their winter essentials to Toolbox.

With a bigger presence in the community, Symons hopes to distribute more ‘toolbox’ kits than ever this year.

“There’s more need,” he says. “One agency usually requests 20 ‘toolboxes,' they’re now asking for 250. That’s a big increase. I’m not worried. The community always gets behind us. They always have.”

Symons credits the campaign’s growth to his grassroots efforts.

“I think it takes time to get recognized,” he says. “When you’re starting a charity you have to get out there. I’ve been going to events, networking. You build relationships and then people get behind you. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Is Symons surprised that support for Toolbox Niagara continues to grow in Thorold?

“No, not at all,” he says. “That’s why I’m a proud Thorold resident and I’ll never leave.”

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Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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