When AY Jackson Secondary School was looking for a partner for a Christmas toy and food drive to benefit the neighbouring Sparroway community, Toronto Police was the obvious choice.
“We did this in collaboration with the Sparroway Outreach Community Group a few years ago when I was a teacher,” said principal Boyd Bugden. “When we were looking to re-start the initiative this year, we didn’t have to look for very far to find a partner. The police are very involved in our school and the community. They were a prime candidate once we started talking about this project.”
Constable Michael Bradford is the boys’ soccer and girls flag football coach at A.Y Jackson Secondary School.
On December 19, students and 33 Division officers delivered the Christmas presents to 23 needy families.
Teachers collaborated with the nearly 848 Grade 10 to 12 students on the initiative.
“We decided to do this because the holidays are a time when people express love and joy and they give gifts to each other,” said Pamela Mackay who is a teacher at the school. “Some people could feel left out and we don’t want anyone to feel that way at this time of year.”
Superintendent Neil Corrigan, the 33 Division unit commander, Inspector Rick Hegedus and Community Response Unit officer Staff Sergeant Anthony Charles were at the school on distribution day.
“This is great story as it demonstrates the collaboration between community youth and the police to help the less unfortunate in our society,” said Charles.
Corrigan said he was extremely proud of his officers
“Sometimes, Santa’s helpers look like cops and A.Y Jackson students and staff,” he said. “People don’t realize the enormous contributions police make in the community to make it safe and the work they do to contribute the fabric of the community in building better relationships with students.
“This is a great indication of positive things our young people are doing in the community by working with our officers. It really is a heart-warming experience to see them using their own funds to bring Christmas cheer to the needy.”
The students and teachers used their funds to buy the toys and food that were sorted and packaged at the school prior to distribution.