Cambridge, Ontario – What started as a simple desire to help whoever needed it has led to a full-time passion for helping others. “It’s something I’ve done for years for people. I’m always looking for free stuff and I help out friends and then last August I was like hey, I should just start my own donation room and put free items outside and hold free events where it’s a garage sale but it’s all free – and it’s just skyrocketed from there.”
It started with a car and a full trunk
“Last year I was doing it out of the trunk of my car before any of this came up. I was driving around with blankets, coats, pants, socks and I was going down to Bridges (shelter) opening my trunk and asking hey do you guys need any blankets, some pillows – what do guys need? I was just handing it out and I took my two younger daughters with me and they loved it – they said mom this is really good.”
She also recalled a time when she was in Kitchener where she saw a woman sitting on the streets of King and Frederick. “I had my trunk full because I went everywhere with it last winter full. I said hey do you need anything? She said yea, so I brought her to my car and she grabbed a few things” she told Jenn – “this is amazing, thank you.”
Their helping start
She told Diverge Media she was thankful for Mike Everett who recently passed away. Jenn said, “he’s the one who kind of got us all together.” She said he did a lot for the homeless. He connected them with Beautiful Souls and linked them with the outreach worker in Cambridge who works for the homeless. So between the outreach worker and Beautiful Souls, they now split their blankets and socks and anything that comes in that’s able to go on the street – they split between Beautiful Souls and the outreach worker at 150 Main St in Cambridge.
“I deal with a woman named Tammy and her page is called Beautiful Souls Battling Hunger in KW. She was the first resource that we linked with and they deal with lot 42 and the streets of Kitchener. They get meals made and bring them out to them (homeless) and blankets and stuff like that. So when we get a lot of blankets and winter coats or shoes and things like that are needed either on the street or at Lot 42 – I’ve done multiple drop-offs. I’ve filled my trunk with undergarments that I’ve washed. I’ve brought lamps out there because lamps were needed in the tiny homes.”
Truckloads of stuff
“I’ve travelled to Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, Woodstock just picking up stuff,” Jenn told Diverge Media. She often gets messages from people seeking to help. Jenn told Diverge Media of a woman whose mom had passed last summer. They were set to go pick up some items when the woman told them “I can’t do it today my dad passed.” They ended coming by with a “20 ft U-Haul jam-packed with furniture and toilet risers and walkers.”
She told Diverge that they “took it down to the food bank because they deal more with seniors.” She said they were thankful because they were able to hand it out to those in need there. Things like seats for the tub and canes were given out as a result of that generous donation. She added that she is very thankful for the members of her page who continue to donate so she can continue helping others.
She told Diverge Media “there isn’t one thing I don’t get in donations.” She said “we don’t just look at families – I know it’s called family 2 family but we don’t just look at families. We look at couples, we look at individuals, we look at anybody who needs it and reaches out – we will help as much as we can.”
She said “this is my passion every day. I do this out of my own pocket, my own vehicle – Bee and her husband do it out of their pocket and their vehicle.” She even has students help out and get their hours while doing it – not a bad deal as a student.
The team consists of Wayne Sherman (Jenn’s fiancé), Jennifer Morris (founder), Bee Caskenette and her husband Greg Caskenette. Bee runs the location at Borden street which takes pantry items, clothing, baby items – pretty much anything you can think of that others may need outside of larger donations.
The Ballantyne location does a lot of life re-start items. That is things like furniture and other larger items needed to furnish a home. This includes newcomers to Canada and others like those who are leaving an abusive relationship or those who have lost possessions in a fire or flood.
3 locations – You can contribute donations to one of the following 3 locations in Cambridge;
- 137 Rouse St (only pantry items – no drop-off)
- 23 Borden
- 138 Ballantyne Ave
What services they offer – From a free pantry to serving 80 Turkey meals on thanksgiving to families to helping others wash their clothes struggling from homelessness or a broken washing machine – whatever they need, they want to help. “We don’t stop at little things – we do whatever we can.”
They’ve also been able to sponsor 20 families for Christmas this year. She says they try to find the ones that slip between the cracks – the ones not getting help from the firefighters or the Salvation army because “they make a little too much to get that assistance.”
She told Diverge Media “we struggle a lot with men and plus size clothing because men seem to wear it out until it’s no good anymore”. So if you’re looking to make a clothing donation – plus-sized clothing and men’s clothing are always in need.
Working towards charitable status
They are currently working on becoming a registered charity so that can continue to help more families. They are hoping by the first or second week of the new year that they will be registered. They want to be able to get a space so that they can get their home back that has become over-run with donations. They are looking for a unit 1200-1500 sq ft that people can come in and be able to “shop” for what they need completely free of charge.
If you want to help them help others – visit their page linked here. Whether it’s a gift card to help with pantry hampers (fresh items can’t be included because they don’t keep), or some furniture, or a pack of socks – they will make sure it gets to those who need it. Especially socks – socks are always needed for the homeless. Cambridge is fortunate to have those like Jenn, Bee, Wayne, and Greg who have a heart for giving.