100s of kids from 650 Parliament need clothes, supplies as 1st day of school looms

Mayor John Tory says hundreds of children displaced from their homes after a six-alarm fire in St. James Town last week are in need of clothing and shoes before they head back to school next week.

“We really need the people of Toronto to step up and just provide a little bit of help in the way that Torontonians have proved so many times before that they’re prepared to do,” said Tory in a public appeal for donations at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

Around 1,500 people were forced out of their apartments at 650 Parliament Street on Tuesday last week after a massive electrical fire started in the basement. It could be months before they are allowed to move back home.

Tory asked people to provide new children’s clothing — like shorts, sweaters t-shirts and shoes — for the first week back-to-school. He also asked retailers and corporations to donate too.

“I think the people of Toronto know how important the first day of school is for every child,” he said, pointing out there are at least 320 children in need of back-to-school essentials.

‘We need the City of Toronto to step up to help us’

“For these children, if you can imagine the dislocation of being out of your home and still having the excitement and the anxiety of going to school next Tuesday and having the further challenge now of not having access to your clothing, this is something we want to help with.”

On Monday, residents were allowed back into their apartments to gather their essentials. But, Tory said the clothes that people were able to gather “smell so much of smoke that even when it’s washed it’s still not clothing that these kids will want to wear to that important first day of school.”

“We need the City of Toronto to step up to help us,” he said.

Tory said donations can be made through two agencies that operate in the St. James Town neighbourhood — Community Matters Toronto and Community Corner.

“These kids have been through a lot in the last week and we’ve really tried to support them,” he said.

“But, we want them to have a good first day and a good first week at school.”

‘Going to be a big help for us’

Many parents were at 650 Parliament again Tuesday and said they are really happy to hear that people are going to be making donations to help them out.

Lori Manludac, who has four school-aged kids, told CBC Toronto that her family needs school supplies and clothes because all of their belongings are inside their apartment.

“It’s going to be a big help for us,” she said.

Surabhi Chare, a worker with Community Matters Toronto, said in addition to the clothing donations, they will be running an after school program so kids from 650 Parliament have somewhere to go after school, like a daycare service.

She also said the local schools will provide lunch and breakfast programs so kids can have proper meals, and the Rose Avenue school kitchen has opened its doors to the affected families.

She said for the displaced residents, between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., they can go to the Rose Avenue school and use the kitchen to cook with their family.

Rodelia Sales, who lives in the building and has children who go to Our Lady of Lourdes, said the kitchen and lunch programs will be a big help.

“We can’t cook in the hotel,” she said. “We have good food in the hotel now, but we can’t pack a real lunch [for our kids].”

The Red Cross is also accepting financial donations online or by phone.

Tory said real estate developer Tridel already expressed their intent to donate $5,000 to the cause.

Donations can be made through:

  • Community Matters, 260 Wellesley St. E., unit 102
    • Accepted Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    •  After-hours or weekend drop-offs can be arranged by contacting 416-828-6454.
    • More information contact: 416-944-9697 or [email protected]
  • Community Corner, 200 Wellesley Street, 416-964-6657
    • Accepted Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Canadian Red Cross
    • Donations made through or 1-800-418-1111

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