Buy a toque and help break the cycle of youth homelessness!

    TORONTO, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - February 5th is Toque Tuesday. As Toronto
commuters head to work, they'll be greeted by more than 1200 warmly dressed
Direct Energy and Molson toque-selling volunteers supporting the work of
Raising the Roof - Canada's only national charity devoted solely to finding
long-term solutions to homelessness. Raising the Roof's annual national Toque
Campaign - its signature fundraiser - runs from November through the end of
    Toque Tuesday is the charity's national public awareness day - a day when
all Canadians have the opportunity to come together in support of solutions to
homelessness. In Toronto, this year's campaign proceeds will support Raising
the Roof's Youthworks initiative - aimed at breaking the cycle of youth
homelessness across Canada.
    This year, as well as buying one of the stylish, Canadian-made head
warmers - for a minimum donation of $10 - the public can also join in the fun
of an on-line 'Toque Text Contest' sponsored by Molson - the prize is a
private box at a Toronto Raptors game. And Molson 'Toque Spotters' will be out
in force to distribute instant prizes to those seen wearing their toque. The
toques are also available at participating Home Depot stores and can be
ordered on line at
    "As a five-year national partner of Raising the Roof and a lead sponsor
of Youthworks, we are delighted to once again take part in this annual Toque
Tuesday event," notes Janice Thomson, Executive Vice President, Human
Resources and Communications, Direct Energy. "Direct Energy is proud to have
so many employees engaged and committed to the well-being of the communities
in which we work."
    "For Molson, playing our part with our employees in the broader community
has been part of our history for over 200 years," says Kevin Boyce, President
& CEO, Molson. "This Toque Campaign is a wonderful way for our employees to
make a difference and support the work that will contribute to a stronger
Canada. We're proud to play our part."
    "Today Raising the Roof is proud to be working with our partners and
supporters throughout the nation raising awareness and funds to solve
homelessness in Canada. By simply buying a toque Canadians are helping
homeless youth in Toronto and across the country to get the opportunities they
need to succeed and overcome life without a home," says Sean Gadon, President
of Raising the Roof.
    Raising the Roof thanks National Partners Direct Energy, Global
Television, Canadian Traffic Network (CTN), The Home Depot Canada, The
Bargains Group and ecentricarts. The Toronto campaign also enjoys the support
of 1010 CFRB and 97.3 EZ Rock, HOMES Publishing Group and, new to the Toque
Campaign this year, Molson. We are also delighted to welcome all the many
Molson, Direct Energy and community volunteers who are stepping forward to
make Toque Tuesday 2008 a "hats off" success!

    Media photo and interview opportunities

    Toque Tuesday

    6:45 a.m.

    1200 Molson volunteers swarm 'en masse' out of the downtown Sheraton
Centre on their way to multiple downtown locations to sell toques, 'spot' and
award prizes to toque wearers, and encourage the public to take part in the
Toque Text Contest. Volunteer spokespersons available for interview.

    7:00 - 8:30 a.m.

    Raising the Roof volunteers sell toques to commuters and, NEW THIS YEAR -
'Toque Spotters' awarding instant prizes & an Amazing Toque Text Contest for a
Molson Raptors private box.

    Yonge/Sheppard subway station

    Volunteers, Instant Toque Spotters and Raising the Roof spokespersons
available for interview (live feed available).

    Queens Park subway station

    Volunteers, Toque Text Contest and Raising the Roof spokespersons
available for interview (live feed available).

    Nathan Phillips Square - outdoor opportunity

    Volunteers, Raising the Roof spokespersons, Instant Toque Spotters and
Toque Text Contest photo op - available for interviews.

    Metro Toronto Convention Centre - outdoor opportunity

    Volunteers, Instant Toque Spotters and Raising the Roof spokespersons
available for interviews.

    9:10 a.m.

    Nathan Phillips Square. Mayor Miller gives public thanks to volunteers.
    Other speakers include:
           Janice Thomson, Vice President, Raising the Roof and Executive VP,
           Human Resources & Communications, Direct Energy
           Lia Grimanis, one-time homeless youth, now a successful business
           woman & Founder of 'Up with Women' Foundation
           His Worship, Mayor Miller
           Kevin Boyce, President & CEO, Molson
           Sean Gadon, President, Raising the Roof and Partnership Director,
           Affordable Housing, City of Toronto

    Interviews can be arranged with any of the above.

    4:00- 6:00 p.m.

    Evening Commute: Volunteer Toque Sales & Toque Text Contest continues

    Queens Park subway station
    (live feed available)


           Why it's important to support solutions to homelessness

                               Did you know -
               Almost a third of Canada's homeless population
                             are 16-24 year-olds?

     800,000 Canadian households spend more than 50% of their income on
               shelter and are at risk of losing their homes.

    Over the past decade, homelessness has increased at an alarming rate.
About 200,000 Canadians spend at least part of the year without a home. No
longer a phenomenon exclusive to large cities; dozens of small and even rural
centres across Canada are dealing with this growing crisis in their

    -   Approximately 200,000 Canadians are homeless at some point during any
        given year, of which approximately 65,000 are youth between the ages
        of 16-24.

    -   For every homeless person you see on the street, it is estimated
        there are four others you don't see.

    -   The "hidden homeless" - those living in shelters, motel rooms or
        bunking in with relatives or friends - represent up to 80% of the
        homeless population.

    -   The number of children staying in shelters has more than doubled in
        the last decade.

    -   Abuse and neglect are two of the major reasons why young people leave
        home. Several studies show that nearly 70% of homeless youth have
        experienced some form of sexual, physical or emotional abuse.

    -   Seniors are also at high risk. For pensioners on fixed incomes, an
        increase in their rent, tax or utilities can mean they are no longer
        able to pay the rent.

    -   Many low-income working Canadians cannot afford permanent housing. A
        recent study of homeless shelters in Calgary, for example, found that
        45% of shelter residents had jobs.

                           About Raising the Roof

    Founded in 1997 in response to Canada's homelessness crisis, Raising the
Roof is Canada's only national charity dedicated to long-term solutions to
homelessness. We are a national organization that works in partnership with
local grassroots agencies across Canada.

    Raising the Roof:

    -   Raises funds for community-based agencies providing direct services
        to the homeless - organizations who themselves often lack the
        resources to undertake significant fundraising.

    -   Educates Canadians about the causes of and solutions to homelessness.

    -   Builds partnerships by giving corporations, organizations and
        individuals ways to participate in solutions to homelessness.

    Some examples of our work

    -   Toque Campaign - This national fundraising and awareness campaign,
        held each winter, brings together thousands of volunteers,
        corporations and community groups to sell Raising the Roof signature
        toques. In the past ten years, toque sales have generated grants of
        over $2.5 million - money that has been used to support 108
        homelessness-serving agencies in 57 communities across Canada. That's
        a lot of toques!

    -   Youthworks - Launched in January 2006, this unique three-year
        initiative is aimed at breaking the cycle of homelessness among
        Canada's youth and supporting them to build a better future. The
        initiative provides funding to community agencies across Canada that
        offer services for homeless youth (one each in Toronto, Calgary and
        St. John's). With the help of these partner agencies, Raising the
        Roof is tracking the progress of 500 youth to help identify which
        services and supports are most effective in helping homeless and at-
        risk young people to find the pathway to a better future and become
        contributing, successful members of society. This three-year
        intensive research and networking initiative will culminate, in early
        2009, in a recommended national strategy to end youth homelessness.
        Go to for more information.

    -   Hidden Homeless Public Education Campaign - Early in 2004, Raising
        the Roof launched a national bilingual public education campaign
        designed to dispel misconceptions about homelessness. Entitled 'The
        Hidden Homeless', the campaign features thought-provoking television,
        radio and print public service announcements created and produced pro
        bono by the international advertising agency, Grey Worldwide. The
        PSAs and print ads direct audiences to Raising the Roof's public
        education Web site,, for more information about
        the issue.

    -   Shared Learnings on Homelessness - In the fall of 2003, Raising the
        Roof launched, providing networking and
        information-sharing opportunities for the homelessness sector. With
        directory listings for more than 1200 organizations working with
        homeless populations or involved in advocacy or policy work, and
        real-life examples of organizations working to prevent and reduce
        homelessness in communities across Canada, this interactive Web site
        hub is designed to promote the exchange of ideas, lessons learned and
        tools among front-line staff, managers and volunteers working on
        homelessness issues.

    -   Youth Engagement Program - Recognizing that today's youth are
        tomorrow's volunteers and decision-makers, Raising the Roof developed
        a curriculum-linked educational experience, designed to educate young
        people about homelessness and inspire them to get involved in their
        communities. No Place Like Home is available to elementary and
        secondary schools, as well as youth groups, across Canada. Go to the
        'Resources' section of to view this education

For further information:

For further information: Maureen Deery, Director of National Campaigns,
Raising the Roof, Cell: (416) 346-4910; Susanna Smith, Communications
Specialist, Raising the Roof, Cell: (416) 888-2074

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