In a matter of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down, forcing many of us to adapt to a new normal where our houses are no longer just our homes, but also our offices and schools. In some communities, the pandemic has also introduced challenges related to food insecurity, as well as job and income loss.
As your city councillor, I’ve had an opportunity to witness Leaside’s unparalleled community spirit in action. This neighbourhood is home to many outstanding philanthropic and community-based organizations dedicated to helping Torontonians in need. In these unprecedented times, Leasiders have stepped up to support our neighbours in a big way.
For nearly 20 years, the Leaside Toy Drive Committee has worked to provide a Christmas gift to each child at select primary schools in Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park, as well as raise money to send children to The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO) summer camp programs. While the committee had already set an ambitious 2020 target of providing $20,000 worth of toys to four primary schools, they quickly shifted gears and set their sights even higher in the face of COVID-19.
Since the outset of the pandemic, food insecurity has been identified as a primary concern in the nearby Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood. In an effort to help those facing food insecurity, TNO quickly mobilized a food drive to feed 600 families deemed at risk, including more than 200 seniors. Upon learning about this cause, the Leaside Toy Drive Committee saw an opportunity to make a difference and set out to help support the initiative.
While TNO worked quickly to address food security concerns and the needs of these 600 families, the Toy Drive Committee donated $5,000 of committee funds and asked neighbours to contribute what they could. With the community’s support, the Toy Drive Committee’s GoFundMe campaign quickly surpassed their goal of $10,000 by more than 50%. At the time of writing, they have raised more than $15,000 to support our neighbours in Thorncliffe Park.
In addition to the money raised through GoFundMe, the Leaside Toy Drive has also helped secure food and material donations valued at over $100,000. The community’s donations were used to make 3,000 hampers – 1,600 of which have already been distributed to at-risk families in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.
Whether you donated directly to the TNO Food Drive or worked with any other cause to support our City’s most vulnerable populations, I would like to sincerely thank you for your contribution. The support our communities have shown one another will remain a lasting legacy of this challenging period in Toronto’s history.
If you are interested in getting involved, please visit the COVID-19 Resources and Support page on my website, jayerobinson.ca. You can also find additional volunteer opportunities by visiting sparkontario.ca and volunteertoronto.ca. If you are looking to make a donation, please visit toronto.ca/DonateTO.