Allan Gallant, chaplain of The Fellowship ministry, and three Brock University students assisted James Symons in his ongoing quest to help the homeless last week.
Grabbing sorted hygiene products in an assembly line fashion, the team of five packed up 90 boxes and bags to deliver to young people in need.
Donations of items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and soap came from local churches, businesses, individuals and schools, said Symons, a Beaverdams resident who began with the Christmas “toolbox” program, and has been expanding his collections throughout the year. Last summer, he organized a “Poverty doesn’t take a vacation” campaign, which he plans to repeat this coming July, to help students prepare for summer job fairs.
St. Francis Catholic Secondary’s student council in St. Catharines “organized huge drives during Lent,” Symons stated. “I’m just thankful to the community. The support has been absolutely awesome.”
Items for this recent spring drive—collected over a two-week period—came from “a whole bunch of new donors,” he said, “and we are looking forward to future projects.”
Gallant said his role as chaplain “is to reach out to homelessness and mental health. This project is for the youth at the Raft and the Deck on Merritt Street and the YMCA employment centres. Some people didn’t even know there were places for homeless youth” in Niagara, he added.
“The Raft has room for 16 to 24” youth, Gallant explained, “but they try to turn them over every three months to find employment, so they’re always in need of toiletries and socks. I work with Dignity Funeral Home, and they also donated products.”
According to Gallant, simply knowing someone cares can make a difference to a homeless youth.
“Twenty-four per cent of young people commit suicide, so when we give them a little something, it helps.”
Noah Chasse, who hopes to work for the RCMP, said he “met James at Christmas through Brock (University), and he’s been asking me to help.”
Although he’s returning to his home in Quebec this month, Chasse said, “I like to help, and will probably come back in the summer.”