For this edition of Charitable Choices we spoke with Toronto’s #one2give, an organization that uses crowdsourcing to secure essential items for Toronto-area shelters and registered charities that are experiencing shortages of basic needs due to the pandemic.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
#one2give is a volunteer run organization that crowdsources essential items for Toronto-area shelters/registered charities experiencing pandemic-related shortages of basic needs – such as personal hygiene products, PPE, baby care items and socks. Each round of #one2give appeals to an online community of friends, families and extended networks to answer a list of simple yet essential needs that our partner organizations give us – “The List”.
We encourage small asks in order to make ongoing support sustainable.
What problem does it aim to solve?
In the absence of community events and fundraisers, charities have been hit hard in this pandemic. #one2give connects those who want to give back with safe, simple and accessible ways to help those in need. With each round, we publish a new “List”. All we ask for is one item from each of our supporters from that list – one tube of toothpaste, one package of masks, one box of diapers, one pair of new socks.
Rates of poverty, homelessness and domestic violence have increased exponentially (bed and meal needs, for instance, have multiplied). The organizations that we partner with serve some of our city’s most vulnerable communities. None of them could have budgeted for the increase in need for some of the most basic items.
When did you start/join it?
Back in April 2020, the four of us wanted to find a way to attract long-term support for shelters across the GTA.
What made you want to get involved?
Everyone is feeling the weight of this pandemic. This is the great unifying factor, which is that no matter what your background is, we’re all experiencing some form of loss, challenge or struggle.
Regardless of financial stress, emotional stress, family stress… people want to help. Many of our supporters have said that we have helped them “get out of their own heads” and stay mindful: no matter how challenging their situation may be, there is always someone experiencing worse.
We started #one2give so that people could help in ways that aren’t overwhelming or cost prohibitive; to incorporate giving into their routines.
What was the situation like when you started?
When we first started #one2give in April 2020 in support of Nellie’s, we would get people dropping off donations saying, “I wish I could do more”. That’s the mentality we set out to change.
Each of us operated as a Drop Spot, making a total of four Drop Spot locations in midtown.
How has it changed since?
Fast forward a year, and we have expanded to 40 Drop Spots in all corners of the City. Not to mention, our #one2give supporters get it. There’s no apology around giving one single item – because that’s all we’re asking for and because the end of this is still unclear. There’s a growing understanding that if we all do a little bit on a regular basis, the results will speak for themselves.
We’ve now completed nearly five successful rounds of #one2give and the results speak for themselves. The small, sustainable model works for us.
What more needs to be done?
As individuals, as community members, we need to continue asking our local shelters what they need. It’s surprising what you learn when you leave the saviour complex out of it. For Round Three, when one of our co-founders offered to source tablets for a TDSB school located in a high-priority, underserved neighbourhood, the Principal simply requested reusable water bottles because fountains had been shut off due to Covid-19. Likewise, in Round Four with Youth Without Shelter, we were asked to collect USBs for homeless or precariously housed kids to store their school work or CVs.
How can our readers help?
In short, readers can visit https://www.one2give.org/get-involved to find a range of ways to help. Also, follow us on Instagram @onetogiveto as we’re always sharing small ways to give back and other opportunities to support our partner organizations.
Be a Donor: It starts with one. Just one item from our partner’s list of needs is all it takes to make a difference.
Be a Drop Spot: In order to encourage physical distancing and reduce traffic around the City, we have contactless Drop Spots in all corners of Toronto. These are the homes of volunteers who have stepped up to spread the word about #one2give and safely gather donations from their networks. Our goal is that no matter where you are in the GTA, there is a Drop Spot within a 10-minute drive.
Be a Driver: We’re always looking for some extra sets of wheels to help us collect donations leading up to Drop Day. This role is simple: Pick up donations from those who are unable to drive and drop them off at a pre-arranged location.
Be a Connector: We’re always on the lookout for compassionate organizations that are enthusiastic about complementing the work of the #one2give family with in-kind donations. Get your team on the #one2give bandwagon by emailing us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Be a Gifter:
In addition to working with our partners to fulfill their lists of immediate needs, our #one2give donors often go above and beyond the call of duty – by making gift bags for shelter clients.
Do you have any events coming up?
We’re currently in Round 5 of #one2give to collect new socks for Seeds of Hope. This is running until February 28th. Socks are the most needed least donated essential item.
This is the most dangerous winter for people living on the street. Toronto had an affordable housing crisis before the pandemic. Shelters were already at capacity. With facilities currently operating at 50% capacity to adhere to physical distancing protocols, the situation has only worsened. Warming centres are open at only four locations across Toronto, and can only accommodate a combined 145 people at a time. On any given night, there are over 10,000 people in Toronto who are homeless. There is only one warming shelter in the downtown core accessible by foot.
A simple way to keep people warm and prevent health problems associated with inadequate foot care is to donate socks.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
All four of us love and have a tremendous amount of respect for the work that St. Michael & All Angels Church does. Lay Pastor Jenni King Feheley has a knack of mobilizing an entire community – regardless of cultural background or religion. St. Michael operates Beeton Cupboard, which is a volunteer-run community food bank which provides grocery items to those in need, no questions asked. They also run an Out of the Cold Lunch Program, which currently operates outside due to Covid-19. So we’re always looking to share the love, spread the wealth and keep the relationship alive. Lindsay is delivering 500 pairs of socks to them this morning. Part of our mandate is to continue supporting our partners on an ongoing basis. Follow @stmichaelsonstclair on Instagram to see how this small church and food bank is making its mark on the City.