Going through some old books with her son Graeme, Meg King explains why a family from the Forward Family Shelter would want to read them.
“These are books you’ve grown out of so why don’t we pass these books on so someone else can read them,” she says. “It’s more of a sharing than a giving, it’s just sharing our stuff,” says King.
In the past few weeks, she and twelve other families whose children attend Devonshire Public School have shared some of their belongings with three families moving out of the shelter who are in need of some basic household items.
Two single mothers and a young couple with several kids are ready to move out of the Forward Family Shelter in August.* With these families moving out of the 25 available rooms, more families are ready to move into the shelter and take their place. Whether they are escaping domestic violence or whether economic hardship has left them with nowhere else to call home, there are always families waiting to stay in the family shelter.
This all started when King made friends with Karen Secord, Parkdale Food Centre’s Coordinator, over social media. While she was browsing her Twitter feed, King came across a tweet from the Parkdale Food Centre she couldn’t ignore.
“She tweeted that there was an 8-year-old girl who didn’t have any shoes, so she couldn’t go to school,” says King, whose son goes to Devonshire. King couldn’t help but think that this girl was among the faces she saw around school and in the community, so she had to help.
Weeks later, Secord approached King again with another family in need. This time King asked for a list of needed items. What she got was not one family, but two more in need of supplies. They were asking for basic household items – mainly pots, pans, towels and bedding for their big move from the shelter.
King couldn’t accommodate the request alone, so she posted about it on the Devonshire School Council Facebook Group – a forum parents usually use to discuss school related issues such as playground fundraising, the ongoing accommodation review and field trips.
Immediately parents from the community responded. Michelle Reimer saw the Facebook post and was eager to help. “I was able to give away a play pen and high chair…just sitting there ready for the taking,” she says. Her daughter is four now, and has grown out of her baby items.
Terrena Bennett also stepped up with a whole home full of items. She and her family are moving overseas for four years and wanted their belongings to be used and loved by a family instead of sitting in storage. Bennett thought the families would have similar needs to her own, so her household items would be put to good use.
“Everyone I talked to said ‘Make sure you let me know the next time you hear of another family,’” says King. “No one was seeing it as a one off.”
For King, sharing and helping others is in her nature. “It’s just a part of life. It’s not something special we are doing or something extra we are doing. If someone asks for something we give it to them,” says King.
*Kitchissippi Times spoke with the families moving out of the shelter, but in the interest of preserving their privacy at this transitional point in their lives, we are focusing on the other families who are part of this fresh start.