Toronto’s mayor is making asking the public and private retailers to donate more than 320 sets of new clothing for the displaced children of a Parliament Street highrise to help them get through the first week of school.

“This is a time when we really need the people of Toronto to help us out,” John Tory said at a news conference Tuesday. “I think the people of Toronto know how important the first day of school is for every child and for these children, if you can imagine the dislocation of being out of your home and still having the excitement and anxiety of going to school next Tuesday and now having the further challenge of not having access to your clothing, this is something that we want to help with.”

Tory said that even the residents who have been able to reenter their apartment units to collect some of their belongings found that the smell of smoke was so strong, the clothing was unwearable.

The city had previously asked the public for aide in sheltering the displaced residents. With the help of hotels and home-sharing companies, 230 accommodations were found for residents who were staying at two community centres in the area.

At the news conference, Tory warned that there is a ‘sense of urgency’ with this new appeal, as the displaced children will be returning to school next Tuesday.

“What we need is 320 thereabouts sets of clothing and that includes shorts for this time of year, some sweaters because it starts to be a little cool, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and shoes. Those are the kinds of things we need,” he said. “These kids have been through a lot this week and we have really tried to support them. We want them to have a good first day and a good first week of school.”

The children are between the ages of four and 16. Tory said that the donations need to be in the hands of parents by Monday.

A week ago, firefighters were called to fight a six-alarm fire at a highrise building in St. James Town. The fire originated from an electrical box in the basement of the building.

More than 1,500 tenants had to be evacuated.

On Monday, displaced residents were given the opportunity to enter the building to grab their necessities. The city said that tenants of 129 units were able to access their apartments and that security guards will be available throughout the week between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. so that all residents are given the opportunity to gather their belongings.

Building management has been providing water stations, tents and portable toilets for residents waiting in line to reenter their units.

Residents have been told that it could take a couple of months for crews to complete repairs to the system’s electrical distribution system.

At the news conference, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said that it could take six to eight weeks to complete the investigation into the fire. The preliminary cause of the blaze was major failure in the building’s electrical distribution system.

In addition to asking for clothing donations, Tory also urged Toronto residents to make financial contributions to the Red Cross, who will distribute the funds. Red Cross is also available to help facilitate fundraising events in the neighbourhood.

The mayor also renewed his call for accommodation, asking friends and family to continue and offer their homes to those displaced. He also made an appeal to landlords with unoccupied units in their homes or apartment buildings.

“The hotels that have been provided for people cannot, as we know, be provided indefinitely,” he said. “We need to hear from you if you have suites available that can house these people for the coming weeks.

Tory said that the cost of this temporary housing is the principal responsibility of the landlord of the building. The property managers, Tory said, understand that they must work quickly to get the building back up and running so that residents can return home.

Clothing donations will be accepted by two agencies that operate within the St. James Town neighbourhood -- Community Matters Toronto and the St. James Town Community Corner.

Community Matters Toronto can be reached at 416-828-6454 and donors can contact Community Corner at 416-964-6657.

Wellesley Parliament Square Property Management will provide updates to residents through the website, but residents can also call a 24-hour hotline at 647-760-7339.

Anyone who requires emergency social services such as accommodation should contact the Red Cross at 1-855-797-8875.

The public can donate to the Red Cross Parliament Street Highrise Fire Appeal fund here.