Edmonton’s winters are often unforgiving (as has been more than clear these last couple of weeks with this extreme cold and wind), which puts the city’s less fortunate at even more of a disadvantage. According to Homeward Trust, Edmonton’s homeless population was at an estimated 1,752 in 2016, which is down 24% from 2014 but there is still a long way to go.
Thankfully, the warm hearts of Edmonton help make the season brighter for those people and especially around the holidays, there are a lot of ways to help out. The need for resources for homeless and disadvantaged people have been in the news a lot lately (Hope Mission having 24/7 beds or deaths given the cold weather). Here is a list of some resources to help fellow Edmontonians out this winter (and year-round!).
WHERE YOU CAN VOLUNTEER
Many of the city’s shelters and organizations wouldn’t be running without the countless hours volunteered by Edmontonians. As such, most of them are always looking for volunteers for a wide-range of positions (both year-round and seasonal around holiday events).
WHERE YOU CAN DONATE
Most shelters and organizations in Edmonton that help at-risk populations also accept donations, but demand for food at Edmonton’s Food Bank has surged this year and the cold weather has left the shelves at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society, in large part, empty. Both of these organizations work with other agencies in the city to provide resources to the homeless. So drop off food, clean out your closet, or make a monetary donation to these organizations!
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
- Call 2-1-1 if you see a homeless person in distress or are looking for information about other services. The people at 2-1-1 in Edmonton will get in touch with services and agencies in the city to help those at-risk. In case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.
- Shovel your neighbour’s sidewalk! It’s a simple way to help out the elderly or people with mobility issues in your community. Check out programs here!
- Research reputable organizations in the city to donate your money and time to. With our office located in downtown, panhandling is a common sight but EPS and the City ask people to consider donating money to the organizations in the city that help these at-risk people instead. We interviewed 104 Street’s community liaison with the EPS in 2015 about this.
There are a vast variety of organizations in the city that run year-round and this list is in no way exhaustive, but gives some great ideas of ways you can give back during the holiday season (Homeward Trust has a very comprehensive guide of shelters, centers, and organizations in Edmonton here). With cold weather seeming to be here to stay this time, don’t forget to open your heart and lend a hand to those who need it most!