We spoke to a number of charities in Calgary in order to learn from them what items they are always running out of depending on the season. Monetary donations are obviously always appreciated but if you’re looking to donate something tangible this summer here’s a cheat sheet on what to give where. FYI, one thing we kept hearing was, while donations are greatly appreciated, it’s always best to call ahead before dropping items off so they can prepare the facility for intake.
Calgary Dream Centre
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: Water bottles, hygiene items and food and grocery type donations.
Why: As they care for several hundred individuals at their intake program they often have to put together hampers for them.
The Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre
Who they are: The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society is a long time presence in the city that cares for the cities poor, marginalized and homeless. They provide over 50 comprehensive programs to fit the needs of those that walk through their doors.
What to give: Weather appropriate clothing, men’s shirts (size medium in particular) and sunscreen.
Why: Many of the people they work with spend a great deal of time outside and these items help them to beat the heat, where it would otherwise be impossible.
Calgary Food Bank
Who they are: They fill hungry and in-need Calgarian’s stomachs with quality food and also supply food to other charitable organizations.
What to give: Fresh items such as produce.
Why: Fresh items are sometimes harder to come by because they have to be dropped off right to the food bank but they are always something patrons enjoy.
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
Who they are: First and foremost they are a safe place for women and children to land when fleeing harmful and abusive situations. They also have a range of next-step programs for those using their services.
What to give: Unopened sunscreen, new summer clothing items such as sandals, flip-flops, shorts, summer jackets and sports bras.
Why: Seasonal clothing is important and women may not have these items when they show up at the shelter.
Children’s Cottage Society
Who they are: They exist to provide short term and long term support to families in crisis. Programs such as their 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: Outdoor toys such as skip ropes, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and bikes.
Why: They ask for items that feel like home because they are creating a comfortable environment for kids to play and stay.
Inn from the Cold
Who they are: An organization seeking to end child and family homelessness through providing a home and safe place to heal.
What to give: Brand new sunscreen, rain gear, sneakers, backpacks, bathing suits, towels, hats and sunglasses.
Why: Items must be new because they do not have commercial laundry facilities on site.
Ronald McDonald House
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: Grocery, gas and mall gift cards, passes to the Calgary Zoo or Heritage Park and items for new babies.
Why: As families have often come a long way to get treatment for their children and are under a lot of stress the chance to go shop for groceries or visit a nice restaurant brings back some normalcy. Items for infants are also needed because a lot of families staying the Ronald McDonald House in summer are there before or after they deliver.
Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary
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. They also tackle issues for women around abuse, addiction and homelessness.
What to give: Items that can be used in their intake bags such as toiletries and towels.
Why: Women will often show up with very little material possessions, intake bags aim to provide all the basic care items they may need.
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: Only new items, clothing for women and children, gift cards for stores like Walmart and Superstore and recreational passes.
Why: Items like gift cards give women the ability to shop for themselves and select items they like, an important ability to exercise for many of the women using the YWCA.