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York students find use for unused with Fix the 6ix

Leftover gift cards go towards patching Toronto's 'chips and cracks.'

York University students think unused gift cards collecting dust in wallets and drawers might be part of the answer to providing more help for Toronto's homeless.

Liz Beddall/Metro

York University students think unused gift cards collecting dust in wallets and drawers might be part of the answer to providing more help for Toronto's homeless.

A group of students is helping unused gift cards get to those who need them the most.

Fix The 6ix is made up of about a dozen volunteers who collect giftcards to buy food and clothing for people who are homeless.

The idea has been in the works a long time for founder Deanna Lentini.

Growing up in North York, she’d ask her parents for a coin to give to a homeless person every time she visited downtown. In Grade 12, she decided she needed to be a bigger part of the solution.

“Homelessness is not a choice,” the York University health sciences student said. “It happens to someone who is at the mercy of the system, and that’s why we need to fix it.”

Fix The 6ix is has big plans but it's starting small. 

With about 60 gift cards in hand so far, members are setting up donation boxes across York’s campus. The group hopes to spread the boxes across the city in partnership with school boards.

Everyone has these leftover gift cards and the tiny bit of money left there is useful to someone on the streets, said Lentini, adding community response has been overwhelming so far.

“I don’t think the city’s broken," she said, "But there are certainly some chips and cracks like poverty and homelessness that need fixing.”

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