Grade four students in Travis White’s and Kristin Rogers’ classes at Kew Beach Public School have set out to help the Out Of the Cold program at St. Aidan’s Church on Queen Street.
The students didn’t just want to raise money to help – they wanted to be more ‘hands-on’, so Dr. Michael Chambers, Chairperson of the program at St. Aidan’s, asked if the students could make 20 lunches, five times during the duration of the program. The program runs until mid-April.
Excited to be handed the task, students set out to raise money for making the lunches. The two classes asked their school peers for donations so they could hold a hallway sale. After only two days, they had sold out and raised $300. Another $300 will be raised through donations.
The students will prepare the lunches on Mondays and deliver them to the church in person, giving them the opportunity to learn about needs in the community and how others are helping.
“I think it’s very important that we are doing this, and it’s very nice,” said 9-year-old Amy De Lataulade, a student in Rogers’ class. “Some people can’t buy food so this way we help them.”
Mina Stojanovic, 9, was also looking forward to the first delivery. “I like that we’re making a difference because they are not as fortunate as we are,” she said.
A handful of schools in Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Ward 11 have also done their part in contributing to the St. Brigid’s Out Of the Cold program, held at St. Catherine of Siena Church on Danforth west of Greenwood.
Board Trustee Angela Kennedy was approached by Sylvia Snow and Marie Foley, the two fundraising volunteers with the St. Brigid’s program, and asked if local schools and students could help with collecting new socks and underwear for the hundreds of homeless that come through the parish throughout the program. Kennedy endorsed the idea and canvassed her schools for support.
The result was the collection, so far, of an estimated 200 pairs of socks and 50 briefs, which were delivered to the church by Kennedy and a few students. Schools will continue to collect socks and briefs throughout the winter.
“People often donate used clothing to the homeless but never socks or underwear,” explained Kennedy. “They don’t think about donating new socks and underwear, so there’s always a shortage.”
Kennedy is thankful for the participation of many schools, including St. Brigid’s elementary and St. Patrick Secondary School. She acknowledges that many of the schools can find it difficult to help out while they deal with their own fundraising efforts and participate in many other community programs.
“All of us had our eyes opened up when we saw the set up [at the church] to help these homeless persons,” explained Kennedy. Some of the students were so overwhelmed by the experience that they asked how they could become more involved in terms of volunteering. “I think the students appreciated the work that others are doing to help the needy.”
Snow, who has volunteered at the program for about ten years, explained that this is the first time St. Brigid’s has asked the School Board for help.
“Angela Kennedy has just been absolutely fantastic,” said Snow, who didn’t expect the level of response and mobilization of the schools by the trustee. “When I first approached her she seemed very supportive, but she really proved it by doing what she did.”
The program, which runs once a week on Mondays, continues to fundraise to provide food for their guests until mid-April. The program administrator is Bill Flattery, and it is led by Father Carlos Sierra of St. Brigid’s Church.