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Highlighting the JRCC Furniture Depot’s partner agencies: shelters and emergency services

Since it was created in 1984, the JRCC Furniture Depot has grown from a local community network into a large non-profit organization that has provided thousands of households with donated furniture items. In 2019 alone, the JRCC Furniture Depot received over 5,000 donated furniture items, and served over 750 families.

Part of the reason for the Furniture Depot’s tremendous growth is the relationships we have developed with partner agencies all across the GTA. These agencies provide social services to marginalized populations across Toronto and York Region, including people living under the poverty line, newcomers to Canada, and more.

All clients of the JRCC Furniture Depot are referred to us directly by case workers at these agencies. We work with over 60 social service agencies, whose clients are often in need of basic furniture items to create and maintain safe and healthy households.

Let’s take a look at some of the JRCC Furniture Depot’s partner agencies to better understand our clients. This is a partial list of some of the shelters and emergency services agencies we work with to supply furniture to those in need.


This organization was named one of Canada’s Best Charities 2020 by Maclean’s Magazine. 360ºkids provides support services to at-risk and homeless youth in York Region. They provide shelter for young people as well as other support services like clothing and food, employment services, and counselling. The organization now serves over 3,500 youth each year.

Inn From the Cold

Inn From the Cold supports people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. During the winter, they offer shelter to people in need, including access to meals, clothing, and laundry and shower facilities.

Blue Door Shelters

Blue Door provides safe emergency housing and housing services for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They operate three locations in York Region: one for families, one for men, and one for male youth. In 2019, Blue Door provided 34,080 nights of safety and 102,240 meals to people in need.

Belinda’s Place

Owned by York Region and managed by the Salvation Army, Belinda’s Place is a multi-service facility that supports single women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. In addition to providing emergency shelter, they also offer housing support for people seeking transitional and second-stage housing, as well as employment services.

Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region

Sandgate is a charitable organization that provides 24-hour safe shelter to women and children in need. They also provide financial, legal, and housing assistance, including referrals to services like the JRCC Furniture Depot.

Victim Services of York Region

This non-profit agency works in collaboration with the York Regional Police and Ontario Provincial Police to provide 24-hour emotional support and practical assistance to people who have been victimized by crime or other tragic circumstances. Victim Services offers quick response programs to victims of the most serious crimes, as well as crisis hotlines and support groups.

York Region Centre for Community Safety (YRCCS)

The YRCCS provides services to adults and children who have experienced domestic violence. Their focus is on centralizing services under one roof to make things as easy for these individuals as possible. Among their services are trauma counselling, legal services, and housing and employment consultations. You can find a full list of the JRCC Furniture Depot’s partner agencies here. You can support the JRCC Furniture Depot’s mission of providing free furniture to those in need, including clients of these agencies. Contact us today to arrange a furniture or monetary donation, or let us know if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer!

The rebbe’s teachings on charity

All of the work that is done by the JRCC is built off of the pioneering methods of the international Chabad movement. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as ‘the Rebbe,’ remains the dominant figure of the Chabad movement.

Not only is the Rebbe widely recognized as a pioneer of Jewish outreach, but he was also a prolific writer. His teachings have been published in hundreds of volumes. He also wrote tens of thousands of letters over his lifetime responding to personal requests for blessings and advice, many of which have been collected and published. The Rebbe’s vast body of work allows us to access his insights on an incredibly wide range of topics. So what are some of his thoughts on Jewish charity?

In a talk he delivered on Simchat Torah in 1957, the Rebbe explained that the Jewish people are like a Torah scroll. If one letter in a Torah scroll is damaged, the entire scroll is not fit for use. This applies equally to smaller and mid-sized letters as it does to larger letters. If even a single ‘yud,’ the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is missing, the entire Torah scroll is affected.

According to the Rebbe, the same concept applies to the Jewish people. No matter if they are ‘small,’ every Jew is integral to the Jewish community. The essence of the Jewish community is rooted in each individual Jewish person. Despite our superficial differences, we all belong to the same community, meaning that we are all connected, even to fellow Jews we don’t know or haven’t met.

This idea is easily applicable to the idea of giving charity. When you give to Jewish charities like JRCC Cares, our new umbrella organization that houses the JRCC Furniture Depot, Kosher Food Bank, and other social services, you are helping people who are part of the same community. Although you may never meet the people who benefitted from your donation, you can be certain that your contribution is helping members of your community — repairing letters in the same scroll. If you have used furniture items that are in good condition, including tables, desks, mattresses, box springs, etc., contact the JRCC Furniture Depot today to make a donation and ensure these items can be given to a family in need. (Please note that we do not accept appliances or electronics.)

Recycling household items beyond furniture

Big cities like Toronto have an equally big job in organizing the waste produced by the city’s residents. Each year, the City of Toronto must manage over 900,000 tons of waste. Managing waste properly requires money, energy, and also occupies valuable landfill space. In light of this, it’s important for all residents of the GTA to try to minimize the amount of waste they produce.

Donating to the JRCC Furniture Depot is one way to reduce waste production while also giving your old furniture items a second life, benefitting someone in need. The JRCC Furniture Depot collects donations of used furniture items like mattresses, tables, chairs, etc. and gives them to households in need, free of charge. All our clients are directly referred by case workers working at over 60 social service agencies from across Toronto and York Region, including women’s shelters, newcomer centres, and organizations that benefit chronically ill and disabled people.

By collecting donations of large furniture items, the JRCC Furniture Depot is able to save our clients a lot of money that can then be used on other essentials, like food and clothing. If you’ve already arranged for your used furniture to be donated to the JRCC Furniture Depot, here are some other ways to make sure your household items can find second homes — benefiting both those in need and the environment.

  • The Canadian Diabetes Association collects donations of gently used clothing and small household items. Each year they collect 100 million pounds of donated items, diverting them from landfills and using the proceeds to help fund diabetes research.
  • The Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy also collects donations of clothing and other textiles through its Clothing Pick-Up for Cerebral Palsy (CP4CP) program. They also accept donations of other reusable items like toys and games, sporting goods, electronics, and housewares.
  • Oasis Clothing Bank accepts donations of gently used clothing, linens, and housewares including dishes, silverware, and other kitchen supplies, among other items.

If you have furniture items that are in good condition, including tables, desks, mattresses, box springs, etc., contact the JRCC Furniture Depot today to make a donation. (Please note that we do not accept appliances or electronics.)

What is essential furniture?

In 2016, the organization End Furniture Poverty launched a campaign to research the issue of furniture poverty. ‘Furniture poverty’ is a term used to describe the condition of not having essential furniture items.

However, the organization knew that they needed to define this term more precisely, since there is no universal definition of what constitutes essential furniture. Coming up with a list of items was important in order to understand who actually experiences furniture poverty and what specific items they would need to resolve this. The consultation that End Furniture Poverty launched resulted in the creation of the following list of essential furniture items:

  • Bed, bedding, and mattress
  • Table and chairs
  • Sofa and/or easy chairs
  • Wardrobe/drawers
  • Carpets in living rooms and bedrooms
  • Curtains or blinds
  • Washing machine
  • Refrigerator and freezer
  • Stovetop/oven
  • TV

Some of the items listed here may be surprising, or not be considered ‘essential’ by some people. However, the goal of resolving furniture poverty is not just about ensuring that households have the bare minimum of furniture. We cannot say that people from marginalized communities deserve a mattress to sleep on, but not a table to eat dinner at, or desks for children to use for schoolwork.

Rather, resolving furniture poverty is about making sure that even families who cannot afford to invest in large furniture items are able to live ‘normally,’ with the same basic amenities that are available in more fortunate households. Donating furniture is a great way to ensure that your used furniture items can be given a second life as essential items in another household.

The JRCC Furniture Depot accepts donations of many of the items considered essential furniture, including desks, tables, chairs, beds, mattresses, and box springs. If you have gently used furniture that is in usable condition, contact us to arrange a donation today! (Please note that we do not accept appliances or electronics.)

Why furniture is essential

“How do you think you would cope without a bed?” This is the first question posed by the End Furniture Poverty campaign, which is meant to raise awareness around the lack of essential furniture that exists in some households.

The term ‘furniture poverty’ is considered somewhat broad. What might be an essential furniture item to some households isn’t in another. For example, one family might consider a washing machine an essential item, while other households can manage without one, or may not even consider this furniture.

A research project led by the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom created a list of essential items that every household needs to have a basic level of quality of life, which includes things like beds and mattresses, a table and chairs, and wardrobes and drawers. These are all items that are collected by the JRCC Furniture Depot, which accepts donations of used furniture items and redistributes them to vulnerable populations throughout the GTA.

As the final report of the project outlined, furniture poverty is not just about meeting a certain standard of living. It is also about feeling ‘normal.’ For example, a family that is experiencing furniture poverty may not feel comfortable having family over for dinner, or their children’s friends over for a sleepover. In these situations, not having proper furniture has a greater impact than the household’s living conditions — it prevents households from having normal social experiences and can make them feel even more isolated and neglected.

Very often, we take our furniture for granted. Many of us never have to think about how to get a full night’s sleep without a bed, for example. Yet there are many people for whom this is a reality. They might not have the income necessary to make major purchases of large furniture items, or they may have to furnish entirely new homes after fleeing dangerous home situations.

Donating the JRCC Furniture is therefore a great way to ensure that your used furniture ends up with a family who truly needs it. If you have used furniture items like mattresses, box springs, tables, chairs, etc. contact us to arrange a donation today. (Please note that we do not accept appliances and electronics.)

Donating furniture for spring cleaning? Here are some other useful tips

At the JRCC Furniture Depot, we collect donations of thousands of used furniture items each year, and redistribute them to families in need. Our clients are referred directly by case workers at over 60 partnering social service agencies across the GTA. Receiving free furniture helps these clients, 99% of whom are living below the poverty line, establish safe and healthy households.

Spring is usually a perfect time of year to do a deep-cleaning of your household. The weather is nicer, making cleaning and decluttering a much more pleasant experience overall. It’s also a good time to get rid of the grime that may have accumulated over the long winter and freshen up your space.

This is also a perfect time to consider sprucing up your home. Small changes like new paint or decorations can make a big difference, and so can replacing older furniture items. If you have used furniture items that are in good condition, such as desks, tables, or chairs, contact the JRCC to arrange a donation.

Here are some other tips for making your spring cleaning as easy and thorough as possible:

  • Make a checklist

Making a checklist for each area of your home will help you stay organized. Consider dividing up your house by room, and then making a list of everything that needs cleaning in that room. For example, the tasks for cleaning a bedroom might include changing the sheets, washing your pillows, and cleaning under the bed.

  • Don’t just clean, declutter

Things can be clean but still disorganized and cluttered. Use this opportunity to actually get rid of unwanted or unused items, instead of just cleaning and replacing everything. Use a website like the Toronto Waste Wizard to see where your waste items should go, and what’s eligible for donation.

  • Don’t forget walls and windows

 Dust can accumulate on these surfaces too, so be sure to wipe them down. This should include removing and wiping your window screens.

  • Be wary of allergies

If you have severe allergies, you should be aware that cleaning will unsettle a lot of dust that’s accumulated over the winter on furniture and other fixtures. Using strong cleaning products can also trigger allergies, so be sure to use masks, rubber gloves, or other protective equipment.

In the midst of spring cleaning, you may be considering getting rid of your unwanted furniture. If you have items like tables, chairs, desks, etc. in good condition, consider making a donation to the JRCC Furniture Depot to make sure these items can be repurposed and provided to a family in need.

Waste and composting

Every week, households across the GTA sort tons of waste into recycling, compost, and garbage. Local municipalities are responsible for collecting and processing this waste. While many garbage items can be converted to energy at an energy-from-waste-facility, there are still some items that must be diverted to landfills, like broken exercise equipment, or large pieces of furniture.

This is where charities like the JRCC Furniture Depot come in, helping find second homes for used furniture items with vulnerable populations across the GTA. The JRCC Furniture Depot collects used furniture items like tables, chairs, desks, and more and distributes them free of charge to marginalized populations such as new immigrants, women and children leaving women’s shelters, and people with chronic illness or disabilities.

Donating your used furniture to the JRCC Furniture Depot is a great way to make sure it has a second life and can be part of a new home. It also ensures that these items will not end up in landfills. However, furniture donations aren’t an everyday occurrence, so it’s also important to know how you can reduce the amount of waste your household produces on a regular basis!

The number one tip from Waste Reduction Week in Canada on reducing household waste is ‘buy what you need, eat what you buy, compost the rest.’ This is because food waste is a major problem across Canada. Studies show that the average amount of food wasted each year for every Canadian is 183 kilograms of food, or 404 pounds! This is approximately $1,100 worth of food beyond thrown out.

A great way to start a habit of reducing food waste is by placing a small compost container in your kitchen. This makes it easy to remember to redirect food waste into the compost, rather than straight to the garbage. Products that can be put into the compost include:

  • Coffee grounds (and filters)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nut shells
  • Tea and tea bags
  • Paper towels and cardboard rolls

Composting is a great way to ensure that even our regular scraps don’t go to waste. They can be used for a second purpose. So many things we own and use can be given a second life, like our used furniture! The JRCC Furniture Depot is committed to environmentally friendly solutions to used furniture through collecting donations of used furniture items. If you have unwanted furniture items in good condition, contact the Furniture Depot today to arrange a donation. (Please note that we do not accept appliances or electronics.)

Recycling doesn’t stop with furniture

Donors to the JRCC Furniture Depot are sometimes surprised to learn just how easily their furniture can be given a second life through our donation program. Donating used furniture pieces is a charitable and environmentally friendly way to make sure these items can be given to underprivileged people trying to establish safe and healthy homes.

The Furniture Depot accepts donations of used furniture items, like tables, chairs, desks, and mattresses. However, furniture pieces are not the only household items that can be recycled. Many other household items can be reused or donated for a good cause, and some of them may surprise you!

Even products that you may consider single use, like plastic bags, can be recycled. Currently, Ontarians use about seven million plastic bags every day. In York Region, the Plastic Bag Take-Back program was started to reduce this amount of waste. The program allows consumers to drop off their plastic bags at certain stores to be recycled, reducing the amount of plastic that is sent to landfills. Recycled plastic bags can be used to manufacture new plastic bags, plastic lumber, patio furniture, and park benches.

One of the most unique recycling programs in Canada is run by March of Dimes, which accepts donations of aluminum pop tabs, the small pieces of metal that open aluminum cans. Because of their size, it is easy for charities to handle recycling large volumes of tabs. They are easy to store and cleaner than full size cans, in addition to being easy to recycle. There are so many ways to repurpose everyday items to reduce the impact of household waste on the environment. One method is to take advantage of the JRCC Furniture Depot’s commitment to reducing waste through reusing and repurposing used furniture. Make sure to contact us today for an environmentally-friendly solution to your unwanted furniture items. (Please note that we do not accept appliances or electronics.)

The impact of furnishing your home

Our homes should be safe, secure spaces where we are able to relax and be ourselves. They should be warm and comfortable, furnished with the essential items we need to take care of ourselves and our families.

Sadly, many Canadians do not have access to a comfortable home. Women and children fleeing domestic violence, or newcomer refugees, for example, often do not have the economic resources they need to find and furnish their homes. They may feel like they have to stay in unstable situations because establishing a new home seems like an overwhelming task. This is where charities like the JRCC Furniture Depot come in.

By providing functional, quality furniture to those in need, the JRCC Furniture Depot allows people in less fortunate situations to create safe, comfortable spaces to call their own. In some cases, this may be the first time they are able to do so.

Being able to furnish a home provides both tangible and psychological benefits. It can validate the decision to seek help, confirming for those who need assistance that they have access to the resources they need to get out of dangerous situations. Establishing a new home is a huge achievement that helps people feel that they are on the right track, towards safety and independence. Donating to the Furniture Depot is a charitable and environmentally-friendly way to repurpose old furniture. If you are redecorating your home or even just upgrading some furnishings, consider those who are not in a position to do so and contact the JRCC Furniture Depot today.

Donating Furniture During COVID-19

Furniture is one of the most expensive purchases that many people will make in their lifetimes, along with buying a home and car. The cost of basic furniture, like a kitchen table, chairs, or a mattress can often be surprisingly high. Combined with the increasingly unaffordable housing market in major cities like Toronto, establishing a new home can be an extremely expensive undertaking.

Unfortunately, the problem of home insecurity has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workers have been laid off or had their work hours reduced, resulting in widespread unemployment or under-employment. People whose work is affected by the pandemic may have much less income to put towards essential expenses like rent, groceries, or medication, let alone purchasing quality home furniture.

Social assistance programs already do not realistically reflect the cost of living in the GTA. Many people already struggle to afford basic household expenses, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made the situation more dire.

New immigrants to Canada who arrived before the outbreak of the coronavirus may also be struggling to survive in this unprecedented situation, and not yet have developed the support system that they need to maintain safe and healthy homes. Now more than ever, these people need the support of community organizations like the JRCC Furniture Depot to try to relieve some of the burden of setting up a new household.

Domestic violence is another factor that causes people to leave their homes and try and establish new ones. Domestic violence has risen worldwide during the pandemic, as people have been forced to stay home. Loss of income, stress, and isolation are all factors that may contribute to these increased numbers, all of which have become much more common during the COVID-19 outbreak. The JRCC Furniture Depot works with several social service agencies across the GTA that support victims of domestic violence, providing free furniture to those who are leaving unsafe environments or temporary housing situations.

People who are losing their regular income during the COVID-19 crisis, newcomers to Canada, and those escaping domestic violence all face different obstacles in trying to weather this pandemic. It is vital that we take care of those who are vulnerable and support them in setting up new, safe homes. Donating furniture can go a long way in ensuring their success away from dangerous situations.