“God bless you all,” exclaims Pastor Maud Taylor of the New Born Church of God on Davenport Road.
She is speaking to the officers of 11 Division, who have just delivered 2,200 pounds of non-perishable food supplies for the food kitchen Taylor runs out of the church.
She gathers everyone, volunteers and officers alike, to form a circle and says a prayer of thanks. The New Born Church of God feeds 150 people every week with the help of food donations and volunteers.
On August 12, Superintendent Heinz Kuck,also of 11 Division, paddled around the Toronto Islands to raise awareness about the importance of donations to food banks and kitchens and to help collect donations for a food drive.
The goal was to collect 50 pounds of food for every kilometre Kuck paddled – about 1,100. Instead, with the help of the TPS family and the local community, they ended up collecting almost 7,000 pounds of food to be distributed evenly among three organizations around 11 Division.
Today was delivery day for the officers as they stopped at the New Born Church of God, St. Francis Table and Breakaway Relief Foundation, the three organizations chosen by Kuck and his team. The collection of donations was spearheaded by Constables Candy Graham and Troy Lorimer who have been working on the drive for the last five weeks.
“This will last us at least a month,” said Kumarasamy ‘Sam’ Narayanasamy, the head cook at St. Francis Table which feeds about 150 people a day if they serve lunch, and up to 250, if they also serve dinner. Most of the people who come to St Francis Table are senior citizens and single-parent families, along with some refugees, new immigrants and post-psychiatric patients, according to Father Germain Kpakafi.
“Candy has volunteered here with YIPI students before, so she knows the reality of the place,” he added.
This is the biggest food donation received by the organization this year, said Narayanasamy, who has worked at St. Francis for the last 25 years. “Let’s hope they continue with it every year now!”
This is the first time a food drive has been organized by 11 Division, said Graham, and they hope to continue with it next year. “This year we got a blueprint on how to do it,” said Lorimer, “maybe next year it will be bigger.”
Graham said more than half the food collected (about 3,800 pounds) came through donations from police, fire halls as well as probation and parole officers alone.
“I just want to thank 11 Division for generously donating to the community,” said Sharon Joseph, Director of Breakaway Relief Foundation. She said that it has been great working in partnership with 11 Division, ever since her organization moved to Dundas West from the Jane and Finch area a few months ago.