Buy a toque and support lasting solutions to homelessness

    CANADA, Feb. 2 /CNW/ - February 3rd is Toque Tuesday. Across Canada, as
commuters head to work during this winter season they'll be greeted by
warmly-clad, toque-selling Direct Energy and community volunteers out to
support the work of Raising the Roof. Raising the Roof is Canada's only
national charity devoted solely to finding long-term solutions to
homelessness. The annual national Toque Campaign - its signature fundraiser -
runs from November through the end of February.
    Toque Tuesday is the charity's national public awareness day - when all
Canadians have a chance to show their support for solutions to homelessness by
buying and wearing a Raising the Roof toque. This year's campaign proceeds
will support the work of homelessness-serving agencies in communities across
the country. Proceeds will also support the work of Raising the Roof's
Youthworks Initiative, aimed at breaking the cycle of youth homelessness
across Canada.

    For every ten toques purchased....

    -  16-year-old Cindy, struggling to finish school while living on the
       streets, will have a hot lunch every day for a month.
    -  Dillon, trying to hold down his first job and pay rent, can buy a
       monthly bus pass.
    -  Indra, fleeing an abusive spouse, will have a safe night at a shelter
       for her and her child.

    The stylish black or driftwood (putty) Canadian-made toques are available
for a donation of $10 or more. For those who would like to expand their
support, our 'Ten-Toque Challenge' offers a great way to involve family,
friends and colleagues in this worthy cause. For details of the Challenge go
    "This coming Tuesday, across Canada you will find Direct Energy employees
selling toques, demonstrating our commitment to being active members of the
communities in which we work, live and do business," said Janice Thomson,
Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Communications, Direct Energy.
    "Over the past ten years over 575,000 Canadians have supported our toque
campaign and contributed to the many organizations working to end
homelessness." says Sean Gadon, President of Raising the Roof. "In these hard
economic times the simple act of purchasing and wearing a toque is yet another
sign that Canadians care about the needs of families and individuals in need
of a roof over their heads."
    "Canadian Traffic Network is proud to support Raising the Roof's unique
and important work," notes Vice-President Brian Stutz. "By including their
messages in our live traffic reports, we have been able to help Raising the
Roof reach millions of Canadians, including our English and French-speaking
audiences in Ottawa and Montreal."
    Raising the Roof thanks our National Campaign Partners - Direct Energy,
Canadian Traffic Network (CTN), The Bargains Group and ecentricarts inc. - for
their tremendous support. We also acknowledge and thank all the media who have
provided invaluable promotion of Toque Tuesday across Canada. Go to for more information or to buy your toque online.

    Facts and Stats about homelessness in Canada

    -  Approximately 200,000 Canadians are homeless at some point during any
       given year, of which about one third are youth. That's over 65,000
       youth without a place to call home.

    -  In Toronto, there are an estimated total of 10,000 homeless youth in
       the city and nearly 6,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 use the
       shelter system at least one night in the year.

    -  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.

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

    -  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.

    -  Abuse and neglect are two of the major reasons why young people leave

    -  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.

    -  The longer someone is homeless, the greater the risk of long-term
       physical or emotional harm and the greater the cost to society. That's
       why it is so important to help homeless youth before homelessness
       becomes a way of life.

    -  It costs an estimated $30,000 a year to keep a youth in the shelter
       system and over $100,000 a year to keep one youth in a detention
       centre. Canada's homelessness crisis is costing Canadian taxpayers
       between $4.5 and $6 billion annually.

    -  Raising the Roof has just completed a comprehensive study of homeless
       youth in Canada. The study will be released in Spring 2009. We believe
       that it will help to inform our country's efforts to resolve this
       national crisis.

    -  A recent Raising the Roof study of nearly 700 youth revealed that:
       -  43% had previous involvement with child protection services
       -  68% of the youth came from foster care, group homes or a youth
       -  almost two-thirds grew up in a family that had a difficult time
          maintaining housing
       -  about 25% experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse
       -  62% of the youth had dropped out of school, quite likely because of
          the instabilities described above

For further information:

For further information: Maureen Deery, Director of National Campaigns:
(416) 489-9531; or Susanna Smith, Communications Specialist: (416) 888-2074

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