Out of the Cold

Offering emergency shelter, safe refuge and hospitality during the coldest months of the year

Dixon Hall’s Housing Services department supports the 16 faith-based organizations that come together every winter to run the Out of the Cold (OOTC) program, a volunteer run initiative with over 3,000 volunteers city wide.

OOTC sites offer a warm, safe place for guests to spend the night, along with a nutritious evening meal, as well as additional supports such as clothing rooms, legal clinics and laundry facilities.

Since 2003, Dixon Hall has been providing the highest quality resources and support staff at 14 OOTC sites, including counselling, housing supports, social service referrals, safety and security, and blankets for guests.


Call 311 to get an emergency shelter bed.


Main Office

2714 Danforth Ave. Toronto, ON M4C 1L7


e. ootc@dixonhall.org

David Reycraft, Director, Housing Services
t. 416.863.0499 ext 2023
e. david.reycraft@dixonhall.org 

The Out of the Cold program was initiated in 1987 by the students of St. Michael’s school with the support and guidance of Sister Susan Moran of the order of Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow.

The program was established after a group of students befriended a homeless man who had frequented the area near the school. Within a couple of weeks, the relationship between the students and the homeless man grew, but unfortunately he passed away soon after. The homeless man’s death impacted the students deeply so with the help of Sister Susan, they began discussing what they could do to alleviate homelessness.

Sister Susan started connecting with various faith groups across the City to discuss the opportunity of having each group organize volunteers at their Church or Synagogue to provide a safe refuge for the homeless. The plan was simply to open their doors one day a week for 23 weeks. They would also provide food and hospitality to the homeless, who are considered to be guests of the program.

Although the program initially opened with one faith group, the idea quickly caught on and to date, there are now 16 faith groups that provide this much needed service.

In 2003, Dixon Hall was approached by the city of Toronto to undertake the management and operations of the Out of the Cold programs.

Out of the Cold relies heavily on the support of volunteers who offer their time to provide food, shelter, comfort and hospitality to the guests that utilize the program. There are several volunteer opportunities throughout the city at the various locations.

Who volunteers?
Over 3,000 volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds. A variety of skills and strengths are welcome and needed.

Where do I volunteer?
Where you volunteer is up to you! Churches and Synagogues offer one-night per week emergency overnight shelter that runs from early evening to the next morning. The sites are located all over the city so it’s best to pick a convenient location for you. Please refer to the schedule to see which site is closest to you.

What is the commitment?
The length of commitment varies as each program has a unique way of operating. Many of the volunteer groups run on a shift work module with shifts that are either 4 hours or 8 hours long. Both afternoon and overnight shifts are available. Each site has different responsibilities for volunteers, including meal preparation, serving, cleaning, general maintenance, security, social programs, donation programs and offering support to guests.

How do I become a volunteer?
Send an email to ootc@dixonhall.org with your name, contact information and site preference, and we will pass it on to the site you are interested in.

Please note that Dixon Hall does not recruit volunteers for Out of the Cold. You must apply through email and indicate the location you are interested in. Each site receives many applications and may take some time to respond.