With approximately 5,000 homeless people living in the city of Toronto, Pooja Kaushal felt the need to help. She is co-president of WarmWorkers, a new U of T club that aims to help the homeless people of Toronto in an innovative way.
Rather than collect monetary donations, the club collects redeemable food and drink coupons from companies, such as Tim Hortons’ Roll Up The Rim To Win or McDonald’s Monopoly Peel To Play. The group also collects gift cards for restaurants and grocery stores.
“When dealing with the homeless, gift cards work better because we essentially know we’re making a difference with gift cards, because we know that we’re helping them at least get food [and] drinks,” Kaushal said.
The group hosts outreach days, where they move through the city as a group, engaging with homeless people.
Kaushal told The Varsity about her experience with a man named Jesse, whom she met during one of the club’s outreach days.
“He was just great to talk to… he had resumes prepared in his bag, he was attending workshops, and our program would be such a perfect fit for him.”
Brothers Karan and Arjun Kundra founded WarmWorkers, after they saw the plight of the homeless population in Toronto and decided they wanted to make a difference by focusing on “transitioning homeless people from a cycle of dependency to an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle.”
The group’s plan consists of two phases: phase one is currently underway and involves collecting promotional food and drink prizes, coupons, and gift cards. Phase two involves consolidating the relationships they formed with homeless people.
In conjunction with their corporate sponsors, the club is seeking to provide homeless people with long-term stable housing. From there, WarmWorkers will work to strengthen interview skills, refine resumes, and help supply professional attire. The main goal of phase two is to help individuals get off the streets, and prepare them for employment and self-sustainable lifestyles.
So far Kaushal believes the reaction to WarmWorkers at U of T has been nothing but positive. “We’ve been very successful, usually people are very generous with giving away their winnings because, you know what, at the end of the day it’s coffee, it’s a donut and we can afford those things but not everyone can,” she said.