Back to School BBQ

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“How can I make a difference in my community?” It’s a question we hear a lot at North York Harvest, and one that’s hard to give a concrete answer for. Every day we meet new amazing people who are taking new and creative approaches to helping their neighbours in need. Everyone’s different and the way they better their community is a reflection of that.

But while it’s hard to come up with a formula for creating positive change, we usually encourage people to do 3 things.

  • Choose your passion. Is it fresh food?  Is it kids eating healthy meals?
  • Plan a fun and creative event based around the things you love to do.
  • Invite your friends, family and co-workers to join you.

Easier said than done right? Well, this last week, one of our incredible donors, Brand Active, followed these steps perfectly, and the result was inspiring, impactful, a really fun.

With the summer winding down, you’ve probably started to notice parents heading to the store to set their kids up with back-to-school supplies. Pencils, notebooks, calculators and backpacks are all important to a child’s academic success and self-esteem, but they can also be expensive, especially for your neighbours already on a tight budget. Any major expenses can be hard on a family, and when finances get strained the tough solution for many parents is to skip meals to make up the difference.

Long-time North York Harvest partner Brand Active had noticed the financial strain of back to school shopping, and decided that they wanted to help. They reached out to North York Harvest and before you knew it, a plan was in place.

Yesterday 22 Brand Active employees came to the NYH warehouse with 500 brand new back packs. Working as a team, the employees spent the morning carefully filling each back pack with school supplies that the Toronto District School Board had identified to them as the most crucial to a student’s success.  After a few hours, the bags were packed and ready to be distributed to children throughout the community. Mission accomplished, right? Wrong. Brand active was just getting started.

The bags were packed in to cars and sent to one of our member agencies, the Room to Grow Community Food Bank in Toronto’s west end.  The Brand Active team joined the volunteers there to set up Room to Grow’s first ever Back to School Community BBQ. Throughout the afternoon Brand Active volunteers grilled burgers, hosted games, and painted faces. At the end of the event over 400 families got brand new back packed filled with school supplies for their kids.

“We’ve partnered with NYH for several years and support them throughout the year.  But we wanted to do more than just write a cheque. We wanted to engage all our employees and give back to our community.  This was something special that went over and above the other ways we work with them.  It’s not food.  We realize that’s a bit odd given we are working with a food bank,” said Robynne Budish, Brand Active’s Principle Partner. “But for every backpack we hand out we are saving families anywhere from $50 -$60 that they would have to spend on schools supplies.  That’s a lot of food they can buy instead.”

If you’re feeling inspired by Brand Active’s story, and want to find your own creative way to help your neighbours in need, we’re here to help. Email and he’ll work with you to create your own plan of action. You can also register to host a food and fund drive, sign up for volunteer food sorting, or to make donation to North York Harvest through our website today.

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