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Volunteers get crafty to help Out of the Cold shelter

Women use their crafting skills to make, sell cards for homeless shelter

3 min read
Sindi Skenderi
The women are aiming to make 60 cards a week to sell online.
caption The women are aiming to make 60 cards a week to sell online.
Sindi Skenderi

Out of the blue, Vicki Cameron-Banks thought it would be great to make cards to help Out of the Cold.

Cameron-Banks started the Home and Heart Cards group one day when she realized she could get other people to use their skills for good. The group is making cards to sell online, and are donating the profits to the shelter.

“I thought the Out of the Cold program needs money, I have this thing that I like doing, so why don’t we get together and do this together,” says Cameron-Banks.

Cameron-Banks used to volunteer at the Out of the Cold homeless shelter in Toronto, but when she moved to Nova Scotia she noticed the program in Halifax wasn’t as big.

She put an ad on Kijiji two weeks ago looking for women to make homemade paper cards in their spare time. So far, 12 women have signed up.

The volunteers vary in experience. Joanne Ryan might be the most experienced; she’s been making cards for 15 years, tailoring them for her family.

“If you’re a rugby player you might have a card with a rugby player on it,” she says.

Joanne Ryan started making cards as a hobby 15 years ago.
caption Joanne Ryan started making cards as a hobby 15 years ago.
Sindi Skenderi

Cameron-Banks says the group will make birthday and other standard cards, as well as specialty cards.

“There aren’t cards for breast cancer awareness, there aren’t cards for people who are coming out. So people have been asking, ‘why don’t we make these?’ So why don’t we?” says Cameron.

The goal is to make 60 cards a week and sell them on Etsy, a shopping website that sells mostly handmade items, and donate the proceeds, minus the cost of materials, to Out of the Cold.  

Cameron-Banks says she hopes that costs are minimal and they can donate $75 to $100 a week.

Cameron-Banks says she's gotten great feedback on their Facebook group.
caption Cameron-Banks says she’s gotten great feedback on their Facebook group.
Sindi Skenderi

Creative fundraising

Jacqueline Vincent, the volunteer co-ordinator for Out of the Cold, thinks the card-making fundraiser is a creative idea.

Out of the Cold is located at St. Matthew’s United Church on Barrington Street, and is open during the night from December to the end of April.

The shelter now has fewer beds. It used to be open to anyone, but now they are accepting only homeless people referred by community partners, or people who had nowhere else to go.

Since it’s mostly a volunteer-run organization, Vincent says all donations are welcome “whether it’s large or small.”

And Cameron-Banks agrees.

“I see so many of these memes on Facebook of people who are saying we’re bringing so many people from other countries, and are not doing enough for our homeless … then I think maybe I should be doing something to help.

“Everyone can do something.  Whether it’s buying a card, or going and spending some time at their local centre, helping serve meals. Everyone can do something, instead of just posting memes.”

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