Tis the season for giving, and CAFE stepped up! In our usual holiday tradition, we have run a toy drive over the last few weeks, gathering toy donations from our community, patrons and staff to deliver to children in time for Christmas. We also matched donations by purchasing additional toys to add to the pile just a few days before drop-off. Late this week, our staff gathered up the donated toys and brought them over to our community partners, just in time for children to get their hands on them for the holidays!
Starting in mid-late November, we placed a large donation box at each of our four downtown CAFE dispensary locations, in order to collect new, unwrapped toys to give to children in our community. CAFE is committed to doing our part within our communities, and therefore we have made our toy drive and food drive a big part of our annual holiday traditions. We partner with local organizations in our community that strive to make an impact in the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. This year, half of our toy drive donations were brought to Yonge Street Mission (YSM) – who serve young people and families trying to escape the cycle of poverty. The following day, we donated the other half to Sistering, a local shelter steps away from our 932 Bloor St CAFE location. Sistering serves as a refuge for women, trans women and children at risk of violence and in need of a safe place to stay. We are humbled to work with such organizations that do such important work in ensuring marginalized individuals and families are able to access help and resources in times of need.
On Thursday, December 22 our staff volunteers gathered up the first batch of toys and brought them over to Yonge Street Mission (YSM) in Toronto. We checked in with the staff inside, and were given some large bins and a dolly to help us bring all the donations inside. Our staff were so excited to participate in the toy drive, and to help bring a little bit of joy to some young faces this Christmas holiday!
The following day, we gathered up the second batch of toy donations slated for Sistering. On Friday December 23, the City of Toronto was under an extreme weather alert, with a severe storm expected. City officials repeatedly asked Toronto residents to stay home due to blowing winds, freezing rain and snowfall accumulation from Friday through Sunday. Despite the extreme conditions, our CAFE staff volunteers made it in to not only pick up the toys from CAFE, but also to cart all the donations over on foot to Sistering.
We are so thankful to our patrons, staff and community for helping us gather so many toys for children this Christmas holiday. We are also thankful to our community partners, Yonge Street Mission and Sistering, for all the valuable work they do in serving the most vulnerable members of our society. Lastly, we are especially grateful for our incredible CAFE staff, whose time and efforts consistently power all of our community efforts throughout the year. We hope we have been able to bring some joy to young faces this Christmas holiday!