A six-week supply of food is being distributed to 370 low-income families to help them get ahead of their bills this holiday season.
Hundreds of volunteers sorted the food items, packed them into boxes and loaded them into trucks and minivans at Ellesmere Community Centre Friday, Dec. 20.
“It’s a chance to give back to the community at a time when families are in need,” said volunteer Silvana Eiras.
“It’s a great example for children to know that volunteering is an integral part of community life.”
The initiative is run by Project Engagement, which was founded 10 years ago by investment banker Vince Gasparro and Scarborough Centre Councillor Michael Thompson.
“What started as a single meal and a few toys for approximately 40 people has grown into what you see here today,” Gasparro said.
“We’re helping 370 families from right across Toronto…Who we’re helping are the working poor. These are people who are working two jobs, sometimes even three.”
Gasparro noted the holiday hampers allow these families to get ahead of their bills as they won’t need to go grocery shopping for four to six weeks.
Each family receives six boxes of food. One box contains fresh produce. The others contain frozen turkey, ham and non-perishables.
All the food items are donated or purchased through donations.
“I go on a couple of deliveries a year to make sure that families getting these hampers are families who are truly in need and I can tell you they are,” Gasparro said.
“They are very grateful. The emotion that these families display when they are getting these hampers is incredible.”
Thompson said the community has come together to help these struggling families. “We’re always wishing and hoping that this would be the last time because the problem (of poverty) would hopefully go away. It’s not going away. It’s getting worse unfortunately.”