Phoenix House receives hundreds of toothbrushes after call for help

'Hygiene is the cornerstone of emotional and mental well-being'

HRM residents came to the rescue of a local youth shelter over the weekend, responding to a social media post asking for urgent toothbrush donations.

Phoenix Youth Programs is a Halifax based charity that operates a youth shelter in the city’s south end. The youth shelter, known as Phoenix House, assists approximately 1,000 youth every year.

Staff at Phoenix House took to Twitter for help Thursday afternoon when they realized they were running low on toothbrushes. Instead of buying toothbrushes, they asked the public to donate them.

“When you receive donations of toothbrushes that come to your door, you can immediately give it to a person that needs it,” said Sabina Pollayparambil, head of marketing and communications at Phoenix Youth Programs.

Their strategy of relying on Twitter for a quick influx of donations worked.

Many people saw the post and decided to donate, including Courtney Fanning, who has experience working with at-risk youth and knows the struggles they deal with. Fanning got together with her mother and her mother’s best friend to donate toothbrushes, toothpaste and bus tickets.

“When we saw them reaching out in need of such basic necessities it was an easy way to help them out. Hygiene is the cornerstone of emotional and mental well-being and it just seemed like an important and easy thing to provide,” said Fanning.

Dentist Ian MacIntyre decided to donate around 50 toothbrushes after seeing the post. He owns and operates Coburg Dentistry across the street from Phoenix House.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do. They needed some help and the cost to us is minimal,” said MacIntyre.

MacIntyre believes the shelter’s call for donations of toothbrushes rather than money was a good way to garner support. He said it allows people to feel like they’re making a tangible difference.

People who had once relied on Phoenix Youth Programs also helped out.

“To have any support is amazing by itself, but it especially touches your heart when you have someone who was a former youth give what they can,” said Pollayparambil.

Although the toothbrush shortage has been solved for the time being, the shelter still needs help. Pollayparambil said Phoenix House faces shortages all the time and could use clean towels, menstrual products, and gently used clothing.

Simon Miller

Simon is a journalism student in the one-year program at the University of King's College. His academic background is in political science and economics, but he also enjoys reporting on local sports.

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