Originally posted at torontopolice.on.ca
Carmelia Joseph remembers the satisfaction she and her family experienced from an unexpected Christmas present two years ago.
The single mother of four teenage children, who was involved in a serious collision in 2007, was the beneficiary of a food hamper for the Christmas holidays.
City councillor and Toronto Police Service Board member Michael Thompson and Vince Gasparro spearhead the annual Project Engagement Xmas Drive started six years ago.
“I had health and other issues at the time and every single item in that package really came in useful,” recalls Joseph. “Things are little bit better for us now and I have made it my duty to come out and bring my children to join the other volunteers with the packing of the products for distribution. I might not be able to give money, but I can certainly give my time.”
On Dec. 22, Joseph joined dozens of volunteers at the Ellesmere Community Centre, to help pack turkeys, hams, chicken, ribs, fresh produce and good that were distributed to nearly 300 families across the GTA. Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell sent a bus to pick up hampers for about 30 residents in her constituency.
“We have people outside our city who are having some challenges,” said Thompson. “So we are trying to expand as well as we can, to help as many of our fellow citizens. Many of us have much more than others, we waste a lot of things and we take many things for granted.
“It’s really important that we spend the time to actually help to demonstrate that we care. We have a common purpose and a common cause as human beings to live well and ensure we bring others into the fold and help people.”
The volunteers included Emergency Medical Services personnel and 41 Division officers led by Sgt. Don Campbell.
“Councillor Thompson does a lot of good work in this community, so we are always there to lend a helping hand when he has special events like this one,” Campbell said. “This is my second year with our Community Response Unit and, I thoroughly enjoy coming out with my team, to be part of this initiative that benefits needy people at Christmas time.”
Canadian tennis player and Order of Canada recipient Daniel Nestor and Juno-award singer Liberty Silver, who sang the national anthem, volunteered their time at the community event. Tennis Canada tournament director and former Jamaican champion Karl Hale accompanied Nestor.