A food drive in 11 Division will be making a ton of difference in the city.
When Superintendent Heinz Kuck approached me about his concept of doing a food drive in our Division and him motivating people to donate non-perishable food items by doing a half marathon canoe paddle from the Humber River to the island and back, I thought it was a fantastic idea! Superintendent Kuck said his goal was to raise 50 pounds of food per kilometre he paddled, making his goal 1100 pounds of food! When Superintendent Kuck asked if I would like to assist him with this cause, I immediately said yes!
I’ve been a School Resource Officer at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School for the past three years and have met many students who come from disadvantaged families. Through the school, I have participated in food drives at Christmas time for those families. I have assisted at St. Francis Table in 11 Division and helped serve food to those in need. I came from a family who struggled financially after my parents divorced and know first-hand that there isn’t always money for food. So Superintendent Kuck’s Paddling for Provisions initiative is definitely near and dear to my heart.
The first task my partner, Constable Troy Lorimer, and I had was determining which organizations in 11 Division would receive the non-perishable food donations. Being familiar with St. Francis Table, at 1322 Queen St. W., I know that it runs solely on public donations, and has done so for 25 years. I was aware that they feed on average 250 people a day and that any donations received are always needed and appreciated.
The second place we decided on was New Born Church of God Inc., which is located directly across from 11 Division on Davenport Rd. The woman who lives there, Maud Taylor, is now 82 years old and she has been running a dinner service every Thursday night there for 30 years! She receives no government funding, and like St. Francis Table, relies on assistance from people in the community for donations. She feeds approximately 200 people every Thursday evening and advised me that people come from as far as Scarborough to eat there. She also told me that people come throughout the week looking for food and she always does her best to help them out.
The third location we chose is the Breakaway Relief Foundation, located at 4020 Dundas St. W. This organization works to assist people who live in the Ontario housing units surrounding that area. In speaking with Sharon Joseph, the manager, she advised me that they’re always looking for food donations, as there’s never a shortage of families in need of assistance. Whether that’s young mothers looking for baby food and formula, or people of all ages and genders looking for a meal. At the Breakaway Relief Foundation they are working hard to help the community around them.
Troy, the four Youth in Policing Initiative students at 11 Division and I, set out to get this food drive underway. We created a flyer for this initiative, visited grocery stores in our Division, contacted Toronto Fire Services and got the initiative out on our social media sites.
The community is stepping up to the plate in a big way! All the grocery stores we’ve been to, to date (NoFrills, Metro) have all donated non-perishable food items. The four Toronto Fire stations in our Division (422, 423, 425 & 426), all agreed to collect donations from the public.
To make the food drive more interesting and fun, we challenged the four fire halls to compete against each other to see which one can raise the most pounds of food. The winning fire hall will receive a homemade waffle breakfast by the Superintendent, the Inspector, my partner and me.
We have also challenged all the officers at 11 Division in the same manner. The platoon that raises the most pounds of food wins the same waffle breakfast. I mean, come on... who doesn’t like waffles?!
Once Superintendent Kuck successfully completes his paddle (goal is to do it in under 3 hours), we are going to sort through all the donations and distribute it to the three organizations we’ve chosen. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and we at 11 Division and the Toronto Police Service, are definitely a part of that village!