Building support for Brock grad’s Toolbox Project

It won’t be hammers and drills but tools of a different kind that are collected as Brock participates in a month-long drive for Toolbox Project Niagara.

Along with a number of other local organizations, the Brock community is being asked to contribute essential ‘tools’ such as toothbrushes, soap, socks, snacks and first-aid items to give to homeless men during the holiday season. The project’s campaign, run across Niagara in November and December, aims to collect enough donations to fill 500 boxes for 2018.

The project’s founder, Brock alumnus James Symons (BRLS ’11), said he could not have undertaken such an ambitious initiative without the lessons he learned at the University.

“As a student at Brock, I was taught about community — the power of community — and was encouraged to volunteer,” Symons said. “I also learned about the importance of turning a negative into a positive.”

It was that lesson that prompted Symons to take action when he noticed a gap in service that existed in the region.

While volunteering with several Niagara organizations, the Thorold resident heard a lot about programs intended to collect donations for women in need — and nothing about programs specifically for men.

Since launching the Toolbox Project, Symons has collected hundreds of boxes filled with hygiene items, clothing and books that are distributed to men living in homeless shelters or accessing social services during the holiday season.

“The response has been amazing. It just keeps growing,” said the Recreation and Leisure Studies graduate. “And Brock has been great each step of the way.”

Brock President Gervan Fearon said the Toolbox Project is a shining example of the impressive contributions the University’s alumni make to communities across the region and beyond.

“At Brock, we encourage our students, faculty and staff to be engaged citizens and community members,” he said. “We want to enhance that community connection and build partnerships with organizations through actions that affect lives and well-being. The toolbox project is a perfect example of how Brock alumni and the entire University community are making a difference together.”

To kick-start the campaign, a bin of items for the project was collected by Brock’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education team during Random Act of Kindness Day, along with active support from the Brock University Students’ Union and Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

Monetary donations for the project are accepted through the Socks for Change program, which will donate a new pair of socks to the Toolbox Project for every $2 raised. Socks for Change collection containers (in the shape of mannequin legs) are positioned around campus.

Donations for either program will be accepted until Tuesday, Dec. 4 in front of the Student Life and Involvement Commons (MCA 204) and in other participating offices and departments around campus. Units looking to set up collection stations of their own are encouraged to contact Kristen Smith, Manager, Community Outreach Programs at x3845 or

Needed Toolbox Project donations:

  • Travel-size body wash, shampoo and lotions
  • Deodorant, wipes and hand cream
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Comb and hairbrush
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Socks
  • Toques, gloves and hand warmers
  • Small gifts (word search, book, etc.)
  • Gift cards (Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and grocery stores)
  • Kleenex and travel tissue
  • Snacks (tea bags, instant coffee and pre-packed food)
  • Band-Aids
  • Chapstick and small containers of Vaseline

More information on the Toolbox Project is available at

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