A boy with brown hair stands in front of a closed door, holding up a bag of donated toiletries.

Aiden was studying the men’s emergency system in Hamilton as part of a Social Justice class project, when he decided to research Mission Services’ Men’s Shelter. He called the shelter, and talked to Tiffany, Manager of Men’s Services, about men’s homelessness. He then asked if Tiffany could speak to his class at Janet Lee School so they all could learn more about homelessness. “It’s so important to teach kids the truths about homelessness,” said Tiffany.

When Tiffany spoke to the grade 6 classes, she held an open forum, where the students could ask questions. And they asked a lot of questions! Tiffany was able to debunk some myths about homelessness. “I got to tell them about how a person can become homeless, and what it looks like to be homeless.” She noted that “One of you could be homeless and the rest of you wouldn’t know it because it is that hidden.” Tiffany told them what people facing homelessness need while in the shelters to support them in healing, and reaching their goals.

After learning more about homelessness, Aiden was inspired. “He gravitates toward social justice, and seeing social change. He wanted to make a difference,” Tiffany said with a smile.

Aiden decided to collect hygiene and personal care items for the men at the shelter, and to put together kits. He set up donation bins at the school, collected items from family and friends, and used some of his own money to buy items and bags to make the care packages.

When Aiden brought the items to the men’s shelter, he was accompanied by his teacher and his mom. Aiden’s mom had always tried to make him see he has many advantages in life, even though he may not think so. And she encouraged him to use those advantages to help make a difference. “Hearing his items would be used and would make a difference made him so happy,” said Tiffany.

Even though his project is completed, Aiden is keen to learn more about the men’s shelter, homelessness, and poverty in Hamilton. His leadership and passion for making a change is inspiring!

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