It’s been a December filled with goodwill in a west-end Division where officers had an opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of seniors and kids this Christmas season.
The Crime Prevention/Community Resource office at 11 Division joined forces with its Community Police Liaison Committee members to come up with an event benefiting multiple community agencies that focus on seniors.
As a result, officers first planned a Cram the Cruiser event on Dec. 3 and followed up with a Christmas luncheon at a seniors centre Dec. 9. In partnership with the Loblaws at Dundas St. W. and Scarlett Rd., shoppers were challenged to fill a police vehicle with food, filling 11 Division’s Community Response Unit van to the roof.
“One community member approached officers explaining that, although she did not have a lot to give, she wanted to contribute as she resides in a neighborhood supported by 11 Division Priority Neighborhood Safety Officers,” said Crime Prevention Officer Constable Jan Barr. “She explained that she has seen a dramatic improvement in the area and wished to thank the officers for their hard work.”
A portion of the proceeds of Cram the Cruiser were donated to the Hallelujah Fellowship Baptist Church at 425 Pacific Ave. in the Junction. This church provides food and meals to those in need in the area. All other proceeds went toward the preparation and cooking of a Christmas luncheon for 75 seniors at the LA Centre for Active Living at 55 Rankin Ave.
CPLC members, West Neighbourhood House staff, youth volunteers and staff of the LA Centre, decked the halls of the community centre with Christmas cheer and The Pepper Shakers band belted out holiday tunes.
The 22 youth volunteers, many who recently arrived from the Philippines, were an energetic addition to the volunteer staff, serving meals and dancing with seniors.
“One volunteer talked about how this day made her think about her grandmother, who is still in the Philippines and how much she misses her,” Barr said. “She was grateful that she could help other seniors during the holidays as it felt like she was helping her own grandmother.”
Barr said the seniors enjoyed the day that brought joy to the holidays.
“One senior mentioned how much she has had really sad and lonely holidays and this was one of the best that she has experienced in a long time,” Barr said. “When she danced with the youth to the live music, she said she had tears in her eyes from happiness.
She thanked everyone who made this celebration possible.” Barr thanked local sponsors for making the day possible, including Loblaws, Terra Nursery, Dominion Meat Packers, Messina Bakery, Andy’s Sausages, Vene-Rica, The Cheese Boutique and Bloor Meat Market.
"Members of the Community Response Unit also adopted two local families who are currently overcoming some hardships." said Sergeant Joslyn Watson. "Through collections and purchases we were able to supply the entire family with various clothes, food and Christmas gifts."
Officers are also working with Bottle Rocket Café in Roncesvalles Village on a toy drive to benefit children of all ages who are staying at the Redwood Shelter. The toy drive’s mission is to ensure that all children living at one of the city’s few family shelters are looked after and to lift their spirits during the holidays.
The Division also collected 60 winter jackets which were donated to Carlton Village and West Neighbourhood House, in the Parkdale area, to give to newcomers who are getting their first winter experience.
"The gift of giving has always been woven deeply into the fabric of 11 Division officers." said Superintendent Heinz Kuck,11 Division Unit Commander. "All of these examples of kindness and caring, sponsorship and support, has had a profound way of creating everlasting friendships."