by Blankets for T.O. on March 28th, 2023
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
On March 16th, 2023, Blankets for T.O. held a live in-person event to conclude the 2023 Tote Bag Competition, our biggest event of the year!
The evening was a chance for participants to meet each other and share their ideas, and we also invited the general public to come learn about homelessness and ways it can be addressed. It was held in the open Meeting Place atrium at the heart of the University of Toronto Scarborough. Our co-presidents started the evening by introducing the event. After, our guest speaker, Dr. Steve Joordens, gave an excellent presentation on some of the psychology concepts crucial for helping us understand the challenges faced by homeless individuals and how we, as a collective society, can help them to build themselves rewarding and successful lives. He was previously featured on an episode of our Beyond the Blankets podcast and we are thankful to have him speak and help hand out the evening's awards!
We also announced winners of the competition! Congratulations to our 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners for developing outstanding care packages that would help those in need:
South Asian Mental Health Wellness Association
Read what our winners had to say about the event in their submissions:
We chose to participate in the Tote Bag Competition because it allows us to connect to our community and it is a great opportunity for us to integrate our values of promoting mental wellness through items that are used to take care of our physical well being. One big concern for homeless individuals is the cost of living which directly affects their mental health and having this care package lifts the burden a little.
by South Asian Mental Wellness Organization
All these items were chosen by members of the Jack.org UTSC community in hopes that they could be helpful during this cold winter season. Many of the items were chosen based on basic necessities (e.g. water bottle, bus pass) as sell as indulgent essentials for self-care (e.g. snacks, hand warmers). We hope that this bag could make someone's day a bit brighter!
by Jack.org UTSC
We were also touched by Amanda's submission, which included food, clothing and hygiene items along with an endearing letter:
Dear receiver of this tote bag, I hope you are doing well, and I am glad to give this small gift to you during this cold winter. I hope you can find a shelter where you can clean up, and feel refreshed, then wear those pairs of socks to keep your feet warm. When you eat anything, please don't forget to use hand sanitizer to kill the germs on your hand, so you don't get sick. I hope the pears, soup and beans will give you a meal. I hope you enjoy the coconut water and feel hydrated in the dry weather. And lastly, no matter what life throws you, the light will always be at the end of the tunnel. Keep on fighting.
by Amanda Suravanichsiri
We would also like to congratulate everyone that submitted an entry for the tote bag competition! Putting together a coherent donation package is no easy feat, and we saw that participants dedicated great effort in developing practical and creative packages. In the submissions, we saw excellent emphasis on hygiene items, like toothbrushes and hand sanitizer, and practical everyday items such as water bottles and bags. Many groups also exhibited their creativity and thoughtfulness by including items such as notebooks and plush toys.
Following the announcement of winners, the evening ended with a short games session for attendees to get to know each other and have some fun, making this event an exciting campus event for the general student community. Attendees enjoyed food and drink, and also cotton candy!
The entire Blankets for T.O. team would like to thank everyone who participated in our event by submitting tote bags, sharing our initiative on social media, or attending the live event on campus. Keep posted to our social media, as we will be working with the winners to design donations for future initiatives.