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Volunteers hand out thousands of winter survival kits to GTA homeless

Last Updated Jan 19, 2019 at 10:33 pm EDT

Volunteers work to package 3,000 survival kits which will be distributed to homeless people across the GTA. CITYNEWS Sean Cowan

Thousands of winter survival kits were handed out to homeless people across the GTA on Saturday as the city braced for another frigid weekend.

Volunteers worked to package the 3,000 kits before they were distributed through over 200 social service agencies, homeless shelters, and outreach providers.

Each kit contains sleeping bags, clothing, food and health care items which Project Winter Survival says will give “street and shelter dwellers a fighting chance to beat the odds.”

Jody Steinhauer, with charity Engage and Change and founder of Project Winter Survival, says these kits can offer some marginal relief as the “growing plight of our city’s homeless goes from critical to deadly during the volatile winter season.”

Steinhauer adds they have received requests for over 21,000 survival kits, an increase of almost 60 per cent over last year. She calls the numbers “staggering.”

A City of Toronto report released in 2018 said an average of 8,715 people are homeless and there were 100 deaths among those experiencing homelessness.

At least two people, believed to be homeless, have died in Toronto since the beginning of January.

One woman was found dead in a clothing donation box, while a second woman was hit by a garbage truck while sleeping in a laneway near York and Adelaide streets.