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What’s It Like to Be Homeless for the Holidays?

It’s hard and even unimaginable for most to be homeless. Hardships associated with homelessness only worsen during the holiday season, a time that should be filled with joy and warmth.

Nobody wants to be homeless during the holidays. Unfortunately, many don’t have a choice. To put things into perspective, here is what it’s like to be homeless for the holidays and why one should extend a helping hand during this hard time.

It’s The Loneliest Time of The Year

For the majority of us, holidays are about bright lights, the season’s festivities and spending time with friends and family. But for the 9,200 + Torontonians experiencing homelessness, it can be the most difficult time of the year.

The holidays are a constant reminder of the most important thing homeless people don’t have – a home. A place of warmth, a place to celebrate and a place to be with their loved ones. As a result, isolation and loneliness kicks in. Consequently, this can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

A homeless man wearing a Santa hat asks for help while sitting on the street.

The Cold Is Brutal

Canadian winters can be cruel. Depending on one’s location, the cold can make it incredibly hard to be homeless during the holidays. Many homeless people struggle to get clothes suitable for the cold even in the fall months. They are unable to afford coats, pants, winter boots, and even thick gloves at times, and often rely on donations.

It’s heartbreaking to see a homeless person left in the cold.  The next time you’re in the city and you see a homeless person shivering, don’t simply walk by. The cold is a true killer, and even a warm pair of socks or gloves can make all the difference. 

Homeless man sitting on the bag near the Old Town, floodlit by the lights of Christmas decorations.

Shelters Fill Up

When the holidays roll around and the cold settles in, shelters tend to fill up. People come to shelters looking for warmth, food and a place to sleep, and while shelters can provide this, they are unable to accommodate everyone. This creates overcrowding and a shortage of resources to share within shelters. The most recent statistics show that shelters in Toronto run at full capacity every night.

This can be extremely frustrating for people experiencing homelessness, who are left without a place to stay during the holidays. The more resources shelters have to spare during the holidays, the better.

Homeless person sitting on the  Street Near A Window Of A Shop During A Cold Day In The Christmas Period

How Can I Help the Homeless During the Holidays?

There are a lot of ways you can help the homeless during the holidays, from donating money and warm clothes, to providing food. You can even volunteer your time at shelters, or simply help raise awareness to the issue of being homeless during the holidays.

This year, we have set up Share The Warmth – an online store where you can’t buy anything for yourself. Instead of shopping thoughtlessly, you can give thoughtfully, and share the warmth with Toronto’s homeless this holiday season.