By Alessia Passafiume Spectator Reporter
Their business model is simple: For every toque purchased, they’ll donate one to someone in need, with an ambitious goal of reaching 35,000 people across the country.
Casey Rogan, Matthew Milne and Matt Carter live in Hamilton and are commerce students at McMaster University.
While living in the city, Carter said they “were able to see the problem of homelessness that Canadians deal with every single day,” which led to the creation of their business, “Toques From The Heart.”
It all started with the students collecting and repurposing old hockey socks into toques that they would donate to people who are homeless at the start of the pandemic.
“As tough timing as it was for us to start the business at that time, it was also a great time to start this initiative,” Carter said, as more people were struggling throughout the pandemic and were in need of extra support.
Hamiltonians were willing to help provide that extra support, too.
“We got so much traction from the Hamilton community and thought this idea could really help a lot of people Canada-wide,” Carter said, but they needed to switch their business model to make that happen.
Their new model is simple: For every toque purchased, they’ll donate one to someone in need, with an ambitious goal of reaching 35,000 people across the country who experience homelessness on any given night.
Their acrylic toques retail online for $29.99 and their merino wool toques for $44.99, and they also offer bundles of three for $74.99.
“We’ve seen a ton of support coming from the hockey community,” said Rogan, but their clientele reaches far beyond folks who enjoy a chilly skate on the ice.
People across the country are purchasing their toques too, and so far they’ve donated around 3,800 toques to people in Hamilton, Vancouver, Calgary and the territories.
They have over 25 “giving partners” who distribute the donated hats for them, but they have a solo trip planned for this week to donate 2,500 more in the Greater Toronto Area, they said.
“A lot of people are buying from the GTA, and that’s where a lot of encampments are,” Milne said. “It’s a way to give a Christmas present to those who may not receive one.”
They’re also providing toques to Spread the Love Toronto, The Canadian Courage Project, Scott Mission and Horizons for Youth, among others.
Their efforts are based on toques now, but they hope to expand their business in the future to offer warm clothing, mittens, scarves and blankets to those who need it, while “also providing a way for people to buy some great quality clothing for themselves,” Milne said.
The best part of this venture? Rogan’s family and friends letting him know they’ve seen people in Toronto and Hamilton sporting Toques From The Heart.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know that they’re actually helping someone in need,” Rogan said.
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