In a small room, in the basement of a Notre-Dame-de-Grâce church, there are rows and rows of everyday items.
Some are basics like canned foods, towels and dishes. There are also essential items needed to start a new life.
“We realized there was a need for people that are moving out of homelessness into a new home, for all these small essential items, to be able to eat, sleep and cook on their first night with autonomy,” said Kirstie Jagoe, founding director of Bread and Beyond.
Bread and Beyond is a local charity, whose mission is to help the homeless in Montreal.
Among their initiatives is the “essentials box.”
Volunteers will usually make about five boxes for one person, who is in youth care or transitioning out of homelessness, to living on their own.
Each box has its own category: bedroom, cooking, cleaning, bathroom, and groceries. They are all tailored to a person, and even sent off with a personal touch.
“The essentials box is really quite essential for our youth,” said Rochelle Lazarus, clinical activity specialist at Batshaw.
The youth care agency says the boxes help to relieve pressure for young people transitioning on their own.
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“Having these starter kits to get them going is really important,” said Lazarus. “It gives them more confidence, because they know they have a lot that they’re going to need to pay for. So having this relieves a lot of that stress.”
Bread and Beyond also donate the boxes to shelters like the Open Door and the Old Brewery Mission.
Many of the essential items that go into these boxes are donated from the community. The charity is always looking for help, and often put out calls for donations.
So when Marijke Vroomen Durning heard about the essential box initiative, she thought perhaps her love for quilt-making could help.
At first, she decided to make and donate a few quilts. Over time, she has donated dozens. Each quilt is different and unique, but all of them have a ‘good luck’ tag stitched on them.
“It just makes me feel good, and I hope that when they open these boxes and they look at this quilt they’ll realize that somebody really wants them to make it,” she said.
If you would like to donate items to the initiative or any other Bread and Beyond initiatives visit their website for more information.