With many requiring assistance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parking Enforcement officer Tyler Satino reached out to Good Shepherd Ministries to inquire about their needs.
Located in downtown Toronto, the organization provides food and shelter programs for community members who are homeless or vulnerable.
“When I approached them, they were putting together a lunch program and they said they needed canned food and non-perishables,” he said. “This has been a difficult year for everybody. There are many who are experiencing financial and psychological hardships. The people that we forget are those who are the most vulnerable in our society like the poor and homeless.”
Starting as a Parking Enforcement effort, the initiative blossomed to include other donors.
“Other Service members, firefighters, construction companies, grocery stores and community members got involved,” said Satino. “The program was supposed to last for two weeks, but with all the people that wanted to make contributions, it was extended to a month.”
Hundreds of pounds of food items were collected.
“We also got gift certificates, toiletries and utensils,” added Satino, who is assigned to Parking Enforcement West. “The response was overwhelming.”
Because of the pandemic, Good Shepherd reduced its meal program to offer bagged lunches between 2-4 p.m.
Cindy Shlanger, the Donor Relations Director, said the donation came at the perfect time.
“The items that were collected were used to make sandwiches and meals for our clients,” she said.
Prior to COVID, the organization served about 1,100 snacks and meals daily. With the dining room closed since mid-March, they are doing close to a 1,000.
“The only people we can have in our dining room are those people who are sheltering in place with us,” said Shlanger.
Parking Enforcement Operations Supervisor Brian Moniz praised Satino for his efforts.
“Tyler’s actions exemplify and demonstrate our Service’s commitment to the community we serve and shows our compassion to some of the most vulnerable in our city,” he said.