A young boy from Sunderland, Ont. is once again rolling out an initiative to help people struggling with homelessness in the region.
Easton McCready launched ‘Warm the Streets of Durham’ in 2018, collecting blankets and sleeping bags for people living out in the cold. This year, he’s getting some extra help at local fire stations.
The sleeping bag and blanket drive last year helped over 121 people.
“When I saw homeless people on the streets, I thought I could help. So I decided to keep them warm; we can donate sleeping bags,” McCready said.
“I feel like they would be happy that someone actually cares about them.”
Easton’s mom says the family encouraged him help, and to look beyond what he could do on his own.
“We would find he would get emotional every time he would see a homeless person on the street, so he said, I wanted to use my money to buy sleeping bags,” said Sherrilyn McCready. “We kind of just encouraged him to say ‘how do you make it bigger than one sleeping bag?'”
Easton wants to surpass the amount they collected last year, and that’s where the Whitby and Oshawa fire departments come in.
“Between the two municipalities, we’re looking at 11 fire stations that are always open to accept a donation that Easton’s looking for, to help out the needy in our community,” said Glenn Green, Whitby Chief Fire Prevention Officer.
In the latest Durham Region report, 1,200 households rely on shelters and almost 2,800 access other programs offering support to those experiencing homelessness.
Cornerstone Community Association says they’re 90 per cent-occupied on average.
“Last year, we saw a lady at McDonald’s and we asked if she wanted one, so we gave her one. Me and my dad saw her a few months later and she still had her sleeping bag attached to her waist,” said Easton.
Easton’s good deeds are rubbing off on his younger sister Lacy.
“He’s teaching her what it’s like to have empathy for people, which is fantastic and now he’s guiding her and inspiring her to do amazing things for other people,” said Sherrilyn.
The deadline to donate sleeping bags and blankets is Dec. 20.
While Easton will keep a few to hand out himself, the rest will be brought to homeless shelters in the region, including the Cornerstone Outreach Centre, before Christmas.
“I just feel happy and sad because we have that and they don’t,” said Easton.