About a year ago while at his part-time job at Staples Retail Store at 850 Milner Ave., a young boy approached Auxiliary member Ashton Fernandes asking for the cheapest pencil in the store.
“I told him we were out of stock, but there were other pencils that were a bit more expensive,” he said. “The boy said he would see if his mom could afford it, but he didn’t think she could.”
That brief interaction prompted Fernandes to start a ‘Back to School Drive Cram A Cruiser’ exercise that led to the collection of nearly 300 items.
With assistance from Detective Neil Rambharack, 42 Div. Auxiliary members Fanny Lau and Melville D’Mello and Sgt. Julie Evans and Const. Alison Burns, Fernandes collected school supplies outside the Staples store on August 30.
“I grew up in this community and I realized that a lot of my friends don’t have the basic things that I do,” said Fernandes, who is pursuing his Master’s in Criminology. “I feel bad about that and am obligated to do something to help out.”
Retired Supt. Sam Fernandes (no relation) was one of the first people to make a donation.
“I was in the area doing some shopping when I saw Neil and he told me about this initiative,” said Fernandes, who stepped down last October from policing after 47 and a half years on the job. “I appreciate what this young man is doing because we did the same thing at 32 Division when I was there.”
Making a difference is also what drove the young Auxiliary member to want to be a Toronto police officer.
“I feel that policing is a career where you can help others,” he said.
Rambharack met Fernandes at a community event just over a year ago.
“Ashton is very well spoken and passionate about the community and that’s one of the reasons why I encouraged him to consider a career in policing,” he said.
The donations were presented to the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit who in turn handed it over to the Children’s Breakfast Club.