Volunteers installed hand washing stations around Toronto for those experiencing homelessness
It’s one thing to keep up with regular hand washing during a global pandemic when you live in a home with a sink; for anyone experiencing homelessness, it can be a very different story. As lockdowns came into effect across Canada, they reduced people's access to public washrooms in parks, libraries, and businesses, and things became even harder.
Joshua Kanakaratnam, a 33 year-old engineer living in Toronto, saw an opportunity to do some good for his community. Using the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, Kanakaratnam raised over $2,000 and launched CleanHandsTO. Inspired by Atlanta non-profit Love Beyond Walls, the group used the donated funds to purchase and install hand washing stations at locations across Toronto to help ensure those experiencing homelessness are able to keep up with regular hand washing.
“It’s really about the community coming together to protect the city, and making sure that everyone has access to washing their hands,” Kanakaratnam told the Toronto Star. “We all benefit."
To date, CleanHandsTO has installed eight hand washing stations across the city, near encampments and in other areas that see high traffic from the homeless community. A small group of volunteers is responsible for disinfecting and refilling the stations each day. Once filled, the stations can provide up to 200 hand washes per day.
CleanHandsTO continues to accept donations in order to install more stations. Visit their GoFundMe page if you would like to contribute.