While for many fall in the city brings with it warm fuzzy feelings related to cozy sweaters, drinks reminiscent of a whole pumpkin patch of flavours and warm golden light there are many Calgarians who face it with a certain degree of uncomfortable uncertainty.
After speaking with several local charities, we learned that fall is an important time for donation intake because the items received can go toward helping their clients secure employment and help with the back-to-school rush for their children.
This season is one where many Calgarians hope to re-enter the job force and need the personal care items and appropriate clothing to make that possible.
Additionally, things like school supplies, food items that are easy to pack for lunches and new school clothes are needed to a higher degree.
Here’s what some vital charities in Calgary listed as higher priority donations in the fall and winter months.
Who they are: A recovery organization that helps men and women break the cycle of homelessness and addiction through providing housing and addiction recovery programs.
What to give: Spill-proof coffee mugs, gift certificates, winter attire for men and women including toques, mitts, and coats
Why: The warm weather won’t last forever and winter attire is something they consistently need more of.
Who they are: The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society is a long time presence in the city that cares for the city’s poor, marginalized and homeless. It provides more than 50 comprehensive programs to fit the needs of those that walk through their doors.
What to give: New or used weather appropriate clothing such as coats of all sizes and warms socks. It will even take the mismatched socks at the bottom of your drawer. The DI also needs Tylenol and Aspirin all year long (which can be bought at Costco at a cheaper rate and in bulk)
Why: It could always use more warm clothing and would love to use what you have sitting at home for their clients.
Who they are: It fills hungry and in-need Calgarian’s stomachs with quality food and also supply food to other charitable organizations.
What to give: Items that work well for school lunches and canned donations like tomatoes, soup and pasta.
Why: The Food Bank receives the least amount of canned donations in the fall and spring. It is an especially important season as it is back to school time and clients need food for school lunches.
Who they are: First and foremost, it is a safe place for women and children to land when fleeing harmful and abusive situations. It also has a range of next-step programs for those using its services.
What to give: New winter jackets, new items for baby care, transit passes, and grocery gift cards.
Why: Items for physical care are vital at all times of the year.
Who they are: It exists to provide short term and long term support to families in crisis. Programs such as its Crisis Nursery provide immediate care for children during hard times and Brenda’s House provide a home for young families until they can get back on their feet.
What to give: Backpacks, pens, pencils and art supplies.
Why: Often parents can be overwhelmed with the back to school supply list and everything else it takes to get their kids all set for school and need some help to get it all ticked off.
Who they are: An organization seeking to end child and family homelessness through providing a home and safe place to heal.
What to give: New school supplies, fall footwear, Halloween costumes.
Why: Items must be new because they do not have commercial laundry facilities on site.
Who they are: A charity that acts as a second home for families who have traveled to Calgary and Red Deer to get medical assistance for their child.
What to give: Gift cards for things like groceries, gas and toy stores. Also, items for parents like spa baskets, toiletries, items for baking and cleaning supplies.
Why: Giftcards allow the families the opportunity to shop for themselves which can often return them to feelings of normalcy during sometimes stressful stays.
Who they are: A charity with the goal to support women, strengthen their community and act as a place to build up their self-efficacy. Women can receive assistance with computers, taxes, legal advice, and further support.
What to give: New personal care items including shampoo, conditioner, and makeup.
Why: Women who visit the Centre in fall are often re-entering the job market, or going back to university or college where it is very important to them feel presentable.
Who they are: Open all the time, this facility takes a holistic approach to protecting and fostering woman at risk of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. It also tackles issues for women around abuse, addiction and homelessness.
What to give: Food hampers, gift cards, toiletry kits.
Why: When women show up to SAS they may arrive with very little in the way of material possession and require all the essentials during intake.
Who they are: One of the oldest women’s organizations in Calgary, the YWCA gives women options, whether that be a safe place to stay, counseling services, or basic items they can’t afford.
What to give: Toiletry products (not hotel size), new clothing for women and children, recreational passes, gift cards in smaller amounts.
Why: Items must be new because they don’t have the facilities to sort through donated items.
Almost all the charities we spoke with added that while physical donations are always appreciated, monetary donations are not only welcome but encouraged when you don’t know what to donate. Also, one thing we kept hearing was that it is always best to call ahead before dropping items off so that they can prepare their location for intake.