No. 14: Because we take care of each other

No. 14: Because we take care of each other

Four examples of random kindness in our midst

Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
These basketball players established a scholarship fund

In 2017, basketball players at Christie Pits Park organized an end-of-summer basketball tournament. They collected donations from players, and at the end of the event, surprised a young player with a cash prize to be used for schooling or getting started in business. The tournament and fund have since become an annual event. And while the tournament was cancelled this year, the players weren’t about to stop the fundraising. They created an Instagram account, facilitated online donations and invited young community members to apply via email. The amounts aren’t massive—it’s usually a few hundred dollars—but they go a long way. This year, the fund was able to collect triple the usual amount and created two awards. The recipients were Mohammed Egal, a U of T grad who used the funds to kick-start a small business, and Aljo Ayson, who’s in his second year at Centennial College’s automotive program.

This teacher gathered masks for students who couldn’t afford them

When the provincial government decreed that all kids attending school must wear a mask, Rachel Thomas, a history, geography and special education school teacher at a high school in Scarborough, worried that some students might not be able to afford it. So she started Love Masks, an initiative to provide free fabric masks to students in need. Since mid-August, she has collected 8,000 masks from individuals and volunteer sewing groups like Canada Sews and the Sewing Army.

Fifteen small businesses across Toronto, Scarborough and Durham Region act as drop-off points for fabric mask donations. Thomas then facilitates requests sent in by teachers at more than 70 schools and organizations connected with kids and families, putting locations in Covid-19 hot spots at the top of her list. Her wait-list continues to grow, so Thomas says she’ll keep up the initiative until she fills every last request.

A stranger came to the rescue of this Torontonian in need

In late July, Moira Nordholt was passing through Trinity Bellwoods Park when she saw a man in need of help. He said his name was George and he was living in a tent. Nordholt bought him coffee and some sandwiches from Lucky Penny, a nearby café. When owner Debbie Rix learned about the good deed, she gave Nordholt a gift card to pass on to George. Then he began coming to the café to order his signature mix—five milk, five sugar—on a regular basis. Rix and the Lucky Penny soon became known in the community as George’s support network. Rix would collect money from customers, in cash and e-transfers, and pass the funds on to George. Rix also posted on Lucky Penny’s Facebook account to help find him landscaping work in the community.

Photograph by Ebti Nabag
This duo set up a free community fridge

In July, a Toronto bartender named Jalil Bokhari heard about a friend in Brooklyn who set up a fridge outside her café to be used by members of the community as needed. He loved the idea and contacted another friend, Julian Bentivegna, executive chef of Ten restaurant at College and Dufferin. Bentivegna had two mini-fridges to spare, so they set them up outside Ten’s entrance and stocked them with fresh produce. Bentivegna maintains the fridge, organizing produce and ensuring nothing is going rotten, but he says that the fridge is being used and replenished by community members almost daily.

The community fridge concept soon spread to other locations in the city. Bokhari helped Dara Moshonas and Sierra Leedham, owners of the Parkdale shop Black Diamond Vintage, set up a second community fridge outside their store. There are also fridges outside Regent Park’s Paintbox Bistro and at Gerrard and Pape, outside the local shop Coffee and Clothing. While fridges are maintained by their host businesses, community members are encouraged to take what they need and donate what they can.

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