Orange Door Project hopes to end youth homelessness

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From Sept. 1 to Oct. 9, Airdrie Home Depot is set to raise awareness of youth homelessness in the community with the Orange Door Project while collecting donations for the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BGCA).

Jessica Nash, events and volunteer co-ordinator with BGCA, said youth homelessness is a topic that needs further education and awareness.

“A lot of people don’t really think it really exists, but it is a huge problem,” she said. “It’s something that a lot of people turn a blind eye to because it’s almost one of those unbelievable things.”

During the Orange Door Project, customers have the option to purchase a paper orange door at checkout for $2 and money raised goes towards supporting BGCA’s youth and children programs.

With drop-in programs used by many struggling with homelessness, Nash said youth and children stop by to experience a safe and engaging environment not available on the street.

Nash said outreach workers with the BGCA are also on hand to talk with youth and children, whether it’s about some of the troubles they may be experiencing in their lives or simply last night’s Game of Thrones episode.

“It’s just a safe place for these youth to come knowing that we can offer them a chance to really be a kid. That’s really important,” she said. “Without those donations from the public and organizations that support us, we wouldn’t be able to offer it.”

Courtney French, human resource manager at Airdrie Home Depot, said the Orange Door Project raised $4,500 in 2015 to support youth and children programs at the BGCA.

Organizers have set a goal of raising $10,000 this year. French said she is confident that number will be reached as when customers hear 100 per cent of the money donated goes back into the supporting the community, they don’t hesitate.

“It’s a very giving community,” French said. “That’s why we love to live here.”

Nash said there is a huge thank-you that goes out each year to community members who purchase an orange door or support BGCA in any way.

With many families experiencing financial hardships, Nash said it’s amazing to see continued support for the BGCA and for curbing youth homelessness.

“People are still coming out and donating $2 to help these youth in need. It’s just awesome,” she said. “Knowing that (homelessness) is out there and that these are kids and youth from our community, we really need to raise awareness around that.”

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