Grace Inn Shelter, an organization that promises “hospitality for the homeless,” was new in town this past Christmas when Random Acts Staffer Ruby Curtis-Cowen decided to help.
As a shelter in the dead of winter in Ontario, Canada, they were going to need a number of things to help take care of their community.
Ruby reached out to Christine, her contact at Grace Inn, to find out what sort of groceries and supplies their partner, Gleaner’s Food Bank required. Then she got to work figuring out how she could use her budget to give the shelter what it needed.
Getting Down To Business
She contacted a variety of businesses to see if they could provide some discounts for the items she needed and was granted a 15% discount from both Giant Tiger and JYSK. She then purchased 20 pillows, 60 towels, some extra camp beds, and a large number of women’s underwear, socks, and tea towels. Between the coupons and other deals, Ruby went back and forth between shops and thrift stores to stretch the budget as far as possible.
Thanks to the call, Ruby knew that Grace Inn was hoping to buy certain products for those with dietary restrictions. This allowed Ruby to spend her Random Acts Funds on pasta sauces, tinned tomatoes, and a variety of gluten-free and sugar-free products.
With the leftover money, she had initially intended on buying thermal gloves, but as it turned out, Grace Inn had numerous charities that all banded together to help一what a problem to have! In their place, she purchased 14 coffee card vouchers to go as little gifts in the stockings for people experiencing homelessness.
With help from the community, Ruby’s supplies came just in time, the day before Grace Inn Shelter opened.
Christine showed her around and introduced her to the volunteers, and Ruby was able to see how Grace Inn was set up for both the men’s and women’s rooms.
The staff at the homeless shelter was incredibly grateful to receive the linens, the pillows and pillowcases, and the camp beds. They were also thrilled to receive the products that could feed those with dietary restrictions: such foods tend to be expensive and are not as likely to be donated.
Afterward, Ruby was told that the coffee gift cards wound up being one of the favorite items given to people that Christmas. The gift cards provided their recipients with a treat as well as some autonomy to choose what to spend them on.
Ruby was impressed by all the people that stepped to the plate to help. She couldn’t help but admire all those that donated time, money, and resources toward the shelter. Beyond that, she was struck by how kind everyone was, not only to people experiencing homelessness but to everyone they encountered.
“As always, I was proud of the acts I undertook, happy to have put in so much time to make the budget really stretch,” Ruby said, “but also sad that I wasn’t able to do more and really get to the causes of the problems people were facing rather than just the results of those.”
It can seem daunting to get involved in a case as large as treating homelessness. In Ruby’s case, however, it was exciting to see how one act of kindness really did spark another, as more and more volunteers and organizations got involved to help.
If Ruby’s story inspired you, the Random Acts Regional Representatives would love to help you find similar organizations in your community. If you would like to support Grace Inn Shelter, please consider making a donation or volunteering. As always, thank you for supporting our mission to spread kindness and compassion!