Skip to content

Kitchener woman raising money for sleeping bags for those experiencing homelessness

'The idea behind this is that it’s not going to eradicate the problem, but if it's making a difference for one person, that's a person who's going to have one night's sleep and that's worth a lot to me.'

Growing up in Kitchener, while Chivonne Monaghan was always aware of the growing unhoused population around her, it wasn’t until a trip out of the city that she realized it was time to step up.  

In November 2022, Monaghan was finishing her six-month stay at an Airbnb in the east of London Ont. when her sister drove down to visit before taking her home. Wrapped in layers and still struggling in the cold, the two sisters couldn’t help joking about how they were "freezing" in the frigid temperatures even as they escaped into the car.

Having walked everywhere during her visit, Monaghan basked in the vehicle's warmth until she looked out the window, heart sinking as she noticed multiple people lying on the sidewalks, each wrapped in a single sheet at most. 

“It just hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Monaghan. “The fact that we had just gotten into a car, complaining in our winter jackets about being cold … it just sat really heavy.” 

By the time she returned to Kitchener, Monaghan had settled on a sleeping bag fundraiser; reaching out to Alberta-based company, Gear Trade, she created the GoFundMe, set a goal of $5,000, and crossed her fingers. 

Two months later, Monaghan has hit the halfway point and just received the sleeping bags for her first drop. At just over $100.00 a sleeping bag, Monaghan has purchased about 20 sleeping bags to hand out around Waterloo Region. 

Each sleeping bag is weatherproof and equipped to handle temperatures as low as -20. 

“I know that as an individual, there's not going to be very much that I'm going to be able to do,” said Monaghan. “But seeing people without even a warm blanket just seemed unreasonable to me.” 

A full-time life coach, Monaghan is also working towards further certification which will allow her to take on a volunteer position in the community, not necessarily focusing on homelessness but on persons who may need additional support.  

“From a personal standpoint, it's just that empathy and compassion and knowing that every single person has a story,” said Monaghan. “There are so many ways somebody finds themselves in a situation where they don't have adequate housing and certainly COVID-19 has perpetuated that situation for many people.” 

Since returning home to Kitchener, Monaghan finds herself reminded of that November day whenever she visits her family, who neighbour Victoria Park. Walking her dogs while wrapped in winter gear, Monaghan says the snow-covered encampments are impossible to miss and serve as a reminder of why she started. 

“It’s like the analogy about the little boy on the beach returning starfish to the sea,” said Monaghan. “The idea behind this is that it’s not going to eradicate the problem, but if it's making a difference for one person, that's a person who's going to have a warm night's sleep and that's worth a lot to me.” 

Check out Monaghan's GoFundMe here

Rogers Sports & Media
230 The Boardwalk Kitchener, ON, N2N 0B1
© 2006-2023 Rogers Sports & Media. All rights reserved.
push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks