What Do We Do?
For every backpack purchased, we donate one partner backpack to a person in need in the local community. Specifically, we are giving durable backpacks to those in disadvantaged populations, particularly aiming at those individuals experiencing homelessness or those at risk of homelessness.
The partner backpacks we will be donating are a separate backpack from our backpack for sale. We are partnering with separate manufacturers to purchase backpacks that are ideal for people who are experiencing homelessness. We are donating separate backpacks for three main reasons:
1. The backpacks we donate will be discreet, without any identifying logos or patterns, so the people that receive the backpack will not be recognized as using a donation.
2. The backpacks being donated need to be functional for a specific need. Our backpacks at Givway & Co. are functional for students and adults' everyday lives. The backpack we are donating will be functional to be used for people who do not have a stable home. Both backpacks serve a very different purpose, but are connected by one thing - you (our valued customer)!
3. Our donation model is person-based. Initially we are donating multiple different backpacks to shelters so that we can get feedback on which backpacks were the most useful. By trying out many different types of backpacks, we hope we can find a type that benefits those in need as best as possible.
Partners in Giving
We have been visiting with many different shelters in Kingston to learn more about the situation of homelessness in our community and how we can best help. Our donation backpacks will be distributed to people in need through Dawn House, a 24-hour emergency shelter for women and children. We will also be donating backpacks through Kingston Youth Shelter, which is Kingston & area's only shelter for youth ages 16-24.
Before we started this company, we contacted as many organizations in Kingston as we could, to find out what the need was in our local community. The common need across the board for donations was backpacks. Backpacks are a significant benefit to people experiencing homelessness, because they provide a means of carrying the majority of their belongings. Oftentimes there are issues with belongings getting left behind, lost, or stolen, when people do not have stable housing. The turnover rate for a backpack is much higher when people are using it for a large quantity of their belongings, and so there is a consistent need.
In Kingston, 864 unique individuals used an emergency shelter in 2013. This is 32% more than 2011. As of the end of 2014, 1,110 households were on the waiting list for social housing. A general Canadian graphic is also available here.
Source: Report on Housing & Homelessness in the City of Kingston & County of Frontenac (2013, 2012)