Hygiene for the Homeless Canada is a student-led organization with eight high school branches across three provinces in the nation. Our members have a common goal of helping those who are vulnerable in our society, including, but not limited to, the homeless population.
Our primary focus surrounds the fundraising, packing, and delivery of hygiene kits. These kits include basic necessities such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, socks, and foot/hand creams. In monthly drives, representatives from the organization personally go onto the streets and deliver hundreds of kits directly to those on the streets, as well as to local homeless shelters.
Through our service initiatives, we aspire to give to the homeless not just basic hygiene products that will last them for a month, but also hope: hope that they could one day get back into their regular lives, hope that they will find success. We believe that small acts like handing out hygiene kits can make a big difference within the lives of homeless people. At the end of the day, the dedication of our members and the positivity that we, as an organization, try to spread in our communities define who we are.
We feel that hope is the fine line between life and death and that having hope means having the capability and the will to succeed. This is why here at Hygiene for the Homeless, we strive to give hope, one hygiene kit at a time.
Homeless people face a multitude of difficulties: lack of shelter, minimal access to safe spaces, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of hygiene. Improper care of personal hygiene can lead to many harmful medical conditions, including infections and diseases. But worst of all, lacking the capability to do things as simple as washing one's hair or brushing one's teeth gradually make individuals lose their place in society. They become ashamed to communicate with others and to seek help. Even with access to a proper washing facility, many shelters lack the soaps, shampoos, and other resources for homeless individuals to use and to maintain their dignity with.
It is incredibly difficult for these people to maintain their health. By not having soap to wash one's hands or not having toothpaste, harmful bacterias cultivate. From simply not having access to proper hygiene resources, homeless populations often have rampant disease.
According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security.” Yet, thousands every day struggle to feed themselves, face horrendous hate-based assault and violence, and must overcome a torrent of pressing diseases, mental health issues, and fatal drug overdoses. Existing infrastructure and support systems currently in place are overcapacity and overwhelmed, unable to handle the unprecedented immediacy of this crisis. Major cities across Canada, such as Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, may rank as some of the most “livable” cities in the world, but that is clearly contradictory to the borderline-torturous conditions faced by the homeless.