The five high-school students in matching yellow T-shirts holding empty coffee tins definitely got my attention this morning. They were talking and laughing amongst themselves, so I approached one of them, a tall, lanky girl with a long blond ponytail, and asked if they were collecting for charity.
“Oh yes,” she said, snapping to attention. “We are!”
“And what charity is it?” I prodded, trying to decipher the “Feeding Hungry Young Minds” logo on her T-shirt.
“It’s Feeding Toronto Hungry Students Week for the Toronto Foundation for Student Success.”
That was quite a mouthful and must have worn her out because she stopped there and turned back to her friends.
I had to reach forward to put my coins in her tin.
“Oh, thank you!” she said brightly, about to turn away again.
“Could you tell me a little bit about the cause?” I asked. “I haven’t heard about it.”
To her credit, these turned out to be the magic words. She grew animated and excited and gave me her full attention. She started by asking me if I knew that at least 41% of Toronto kids start school without breakfast. (I did not know that.)
She then went on to describe the 500 TFSS breakfast, lunch and snack programs reaching more than 90,000 kids a day.
And also mentioned the one million apples given to students in the TFSS Apple Program and wrapped up with a description of the “Gift of Milk” campaign.
As I thanked her, I looked down and noticed a stack of brochures beside her feet.
“Um, would you have any printed information….?”
“Oh, yes!!” she said, springing into action and grabbing a pamphlet and putting it in my hand. “Thanks again!”
I left shaking my head and chuckling to myself. While it was nice to see these students volunteering for a good cause, I hope they don’t plan on pursuing a career in professional fundraising….
Other great programs run by the Toronto Foundation for Student Success:
- A mentoring initiative that involves parents and local role models to help kids complete homework, learn important life skills, and stay motivated.
- 50 vision and hearing-testing clinics for high-needs kids across the city.
- The Jane/Finch breakfast program, and other student nutrition programs.