Over the past 18 months, we have experienced an action-packed whirlwind of activity filled to the brim with all things GiveAMask.ca. From the late-night brainstorming sessions in March 2020, to the official website launch that led us to creating and selling great masks and t-shirts. While we are certainly proud of the work that’s been done, we are most proud of the difference we were able to make – and the meaningful relationships that have been fostered with the Canadian organizations directly serving those in need of support.
As we head into the dog days of summer (yay for dogs!), we thought it was the perfect time to move the spotlight onto our charitable partners. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many people in our community have experienced unexpected hardships. The goal of GiveAMask.ca was to ensure that everyone had access to quality reusable masks to stay safe, both at work and in the community.
To date, 1203 masks have been donated across Canada! Whenever possible, founders Michael Carrier and Paruksheen Dhunjisha personally delivered the masks to each agency. Being able to see where our products were going and who would be wearing them was one of our favourite parts of the entire process.
The COVID-19 pandemic created an environment where many Canadians experienced food insecurity for the first time. These people were added to an already strained food support system. We are so thankful to have partnered with food bank agencies across the country. Edmonton’s Food Bank, an integral part of Alberta’s non-profit community, helps over 20,000 people each month. GiveAMask.ca was proud to donate masks to complement their pandemic safety donations of plexiglass barriers, masks, and hand sanitizer for local agencies.
Local to our head office in Toronto, we wanted to support food banks in our surrounding communities. With mask donations offered to the Daily Bread Food Bank, North York Harvest, and Feed the Need (Durham), many volunteers, staff, and clients accessing the services of emergency food providers were able to remain protected and safe. Our co-founder Michael Carrier had previous experience volunteering with North York Harvest, and had family connections to Feed the Need, and wanted to continue to foster these relationships. These three food banks, along with their partner agencies have the capacity to provide millions of meals to individuals and families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) each year.
As one of the first 2SLGBTQ+ transitional youth housing programs in Canada, YMCA’s Sprott House provides supported residential space for as many as 25 young people between 16 and 24 years of age. In addition to our regular selection of masks and t-shirts, a Pride themed collection was added to our store to directly support this organization.
Good Shepherd in Hamilton provides emergency food and clothing, housing, and mental and physical health services in the Hamilton and Toronto areas to those most in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, their focus grew to ensure that the most vulnerable populations could receive critical services to help mitigate their risk of contracting the virus. This partnership included a design competition for local artists to submit mask designs that would be sold on the GiveAMask.ca site, with donations going directly to Good Shepherd.
The Compass in Mississauga similarly adapted their services during the pandemic to ensure that food hampers, take-out lunches, and emotional and spiritual support were available. They even created their own mask and t-shirt designs for sale on our site! For each of these agencies, GiveAMask.ca felt privileged to be able to offer protective masks to volunteers and clients.
In 2021, GiveAMask.ca partnered with the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta (EDSNA) to run a design competition in support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The winning design was prominently featured on both websites and available for purchase on t-shirts and masks. For each item purchased, a mask was donated to EDSNA to support their staff and clientele.In the coming weeks and months, we encourage anyone able to lend a hand, to support these agencies directly. While for some, the pandemic may seem to be winding down, the impact felt in many communities will continue to exist. Please visit our website for more information on each charity here.