Rotary summer pack for homeless in Niagara In total, 25 packs containing everything from sunscreen to hats and t-shirts were donated by Rotary, which obtained the packs from Engage in Change, a Toronto-based support group.

Rotary Club of Niagara Falls president June Mergl, left, and Niagara Falls Community Outreach fundraising co-ordinator Chris Watling show of the contents of one of the summer survival pack that the soup kitchen will distribute to clients. Joining Mergl and Watling in back are, from left, Rotarians Ron Lyons, Jim Craig, Emily Barry and John Corfield. Photo: Richard Hutton/Metroland
Rotary Club of Niagara Falls president June Mergl, left, and Niagara Falls Community Outreach fundraising co-ordinator Chris Watling show of the contents of one of the summer survival pack that the soup kitchen will distribute to clients. Joining Mergl and Watling in back are, from left, Rotarians Ron Lyons, Jim Craig, Emily Barry and John Corfield. Photo: Richard Hutton/Metroland

Summertime and the living is easy — unless you are homeless.

Oftentimes, the plight of those among us who don’t have a roof over their head springs most to mind when the weather grows colder.

But according to Rotary Club of Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada — District 7090) president June Mergl, things can be just as bad, if not worse in the summer.

“Statistics show the homeless suffer more and die from dehydration in the summer than they do of exposure in the winter,” Mergl said on Wednesday as she and her fellow Rotarians gathered at Niagara Falls Community Outreach’s (NFCO) soup kitchen on St Lawrence Avenue to hand out summer “survival packs” to clients making use of NFCO’s lunchtime meal service.

The distribution of the packs — which include things such as sunscreen, hats, T-shirts, water bottles, cooling packs, tooth brushes, toothpaste and more — is a first in Niagara Falls, Mergl said.

“We got the kits plus 400 bottles of water from a group called Engage in Change in Toronto,” she said.

“When I applied to get some of the packs they said they’ve worked with more than 3,500 organisations across the GTA but we were the first ones in Niagara Falls.”

While Rotary in itself is not a social service agency, the group decided to hook up with NFCO to distribute the 25 packs supplied by Engage in Change.

And the supplies are very much needed by NFCO, said fundraising co-ordinator Chris Watling.

“We’ve been very busy this summer,” Watling said. “We’ve been seeing between 100 and 120 people every day Monday to Friday.”

She said the bottled water is something the kitchen could really use, but admitted the supply won’t last long.

“It’s enough for about four days,” she said.

With a limited supply of the survival kits, a draw was to be held to see who would get the bright blue bags stuffed with the needed items, Watling said.

For Rotary’s Mergl, meanwhile, helping out is all a part of her organisation’s mission.

“It’s basically helping others,” she said. “We try to help our community.”

And as much as the group is pleased to help, she only wished they could have obtained more than the 25 packs.

Source: Niagarathisweek.com

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