GUELPH – The Guelph-Wellington Basketeers will once again support Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis (GWWIC) this holiday season by getting back to baskets for the first time since 2019.
The Basketeers are calling on the community to provide donations of laundry baskets packed with basic items for women who are getting a fresh start and moving into new housing.
Guelph-Wellington Basketeers director Laura Blinkhorn said it “feels great” to be bringing the baskets back.
Over the past two pandemic years, the organization had transitioned to requesting monetary donations for gift cards to Walmart and Canadian Tire.
“I think this initiative (and) why it stands out to people is that it is very personal in terms of your planning and what you think or how you anticipate the need for someone else,” Blinkhorn said.
“And it becomes very personal when you’re assembling the basket, wrapping and bringing them into the shelter.”
Wrapped baskets can be delivered in person on Nov. 19, from 9am to 1:30pm, at the GWWIC Centre, located at 38 Elizabeth Street in Guelph.
For those interested in curating a basket, Blinkhorn notes items should be new, and kitchen items are a priority.
There can be no size-specific clothing, or food/drink.
Once collected, the shelter sorts the baskets and distributes them as needed.
“It’s one of the tangible initiatives that is hard to come by,” Blinkhorn said. “So instead of giving money and not really seeing where it goes, you really have control over what is donated and what you’re giving.”
Monetary donations to purchase gift cards continue to be welcomed until Nov. 10 (no tax receipt will be issued for donations).
In 2019, the last year the basket campaign ran, Blinkhorn said nearly 200 baskets were collected.
“My goal is kind of all over the place, but if I were to do 100 baskets I would be thrilled,” Blinkhorn said.
In each of the past two years, according to Blinkhorn, the Basketeers have collected over $12,000 per year in gift cards, totalling nearly $25,000.
“I’m just kind of hoping that the same amount of people and the same supporters come out,” Blinkhorn said.
“I think that’s the most important part and they have been, and they’ve stuck with us through COVID, which is amazing.”
GWWIC is a non-profit organization always in need of community support, said Christine Wilson.
A GWWIC shelter program manager with Marianne’s Place, Wilson said key fundraisers were put on pause throughout the pandemic, correlating with fewer in-kind donations.
“As an organization, we rely heavily on financial and in-kind donations to help us provide support to our clients,” she said.
The Basketeers program provides essential household items and helps ease the cost of starting fresh, Wilson said.
“We have been extremely grateful for this program and our community’s participation as we enter our 13th year with Basketeers.
Gender-based violence is increasing in Canada, according Blinkhorn.
“COVID did not help that situation at all,” she said.
“I think [with] a lot of people working from home in isolation, or going through sickness, [or] having kids home school, there was growing incidences of violence, and the need for shelter support has been greater than ever in the past few years,” she added, emphasizing why organizations such as GWWIC need community support and participation.
“We just want to do what we can to sustain them, and as their numbers are growing, women are able to get the support they need coming out of the pandemic, and we want to be there to support them as well,” Blinkhorn said.