by William Huang on January 7th, 2022
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Groups from all across Canada attended Blankets for T.O.’s first Tote Bag Competition, held virtually on December 27th over Zoom.
In the Tote Bag Competition, participating groups are asked to design a tote bag which would serve as a care package donatable to a homeless individual. They were then tasked with presenting their tote bag in a short video, which could be shared on social media, and during the virtual event on December 27th.
The goal of the Tote Bag Competition was to spread awareness about the necessities and issues that homeless individuals face. To make a great tote bag, we encouraged groups to reach out to their local homeless shelters and do their own independent research into what supplies would be most appreciated by the homeless community. By opening the competition to groups from various universities and provinces, we aimed to bring attention to homelessness issues to a much wider audience.
We received submissions from a diverse range of student associations and organizations located at universities from across Canada, including the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, York University, University of Western Ontario and Wilfrid Laurier University. Each group made wonderful videos introducing their tote bag:
In the run-up to the virtual event, Blankets for T.O. even received press coverage in the Toronto Star! Readers would have seen the article written by our very own Mei Ling Chow (BTO Director of Finance) and Zaynab Azeem (BTO First Year Representative). The article is available online here if you want a light three minute read. We also used the hashtag #carepackagecascade to promote the event on social media.
Submissions were scored following four categories: Item Quality, Creativity, Usefulness and Presentation. We valued submissions that showed effort in selecting high quality items that would be practical for homeless individuals. Judges also valued submissions showing creative and innovative ideas on how care packages can address daily needs and key necessities.
With the tote bags and videos scored by the judges at Blankets for T.O., winners of the competition were announced at the end of the virtual event after presentations from every participant.
Congratulations to Laurier Homeless Care Initiative (LHCI) for winning the competition with their high quality, expansive and well thought-out care package! For their win, they will receive a $500 prize that will go towards an initiative of their choosing. Additionally, we will be working with Laurier HCI to incorporate their items into new care packages for distribution in 2022. Second place, as well as its $250 prize, was secured by The Olive Mission, for their care package which was made with direct consultation to local groups. Finally, third place was secured by Scar Robo for their skillful use of poetry in their video to present a well-rounded care package. Their organization will be given a $100 prize towards an initiative of their choice.
Thank you to all the participants of the Tote Bag Competition and all the attendees of the virtual event. It wouldn’t have been such a great success if these groups did not take time out of their busy schedules to put together a submission for the event. Also, thank you to everyone that shared, commented and liked the event on social media, as you supported your clubs through the Tote Bag Competition. This event is an important stepping stone for Blankets for T.O. in addressing the homelessness crisis in the GTA, and we hope to organize collaborations with other student groups in the future!