What do you usually do on Family Day? The holiday is not even a decade old but has already given millions of Canadians an extra day off during the year to take a break and enjoy time with family.
Kathy, Matthew and Christian volunteer regularly at the food bank as a family activity. We love having them around giving support and helping us out with corporate and community sort groups.
When I think of Family Day, I think about families doing something special together. And The Leeder-Chiarottos demonstrate that each day!
Matthew and Christian took some time to answer questions I had just in time for the upcoming holiday.
Tell us about yourselves
We are two brothers, 10 and 12 years old. We live in North York with our mom, dad and our two precious cats Sam and Dean.
How long have you been volunteering?
We have been volunteering with the North York Harvest Food Bank for about a year and a half now.
Why did you decide to volunteer as a family?
We decided to volunteer as a family because we feel pretty lucky for everything that we have. My mom is big on helping others so she wanted us to learn to do the same. There is a lot of negative in the world and we would like to be the positive.
Why choose to volunteer with the food bank?
When you volunteer you need to choose wisely about how you will spend your time. There are not a lot of volunteer opportunities for kids our age that are interesting or that you can get promoted for doing good work.
My mom looked at a bunch of different things for us to do together and when she spoke to Lisa at North York Harvest, she was really positive about us coming in. We love to cook as a family and volunteering with food seemed like a good fit.
Since joining the team, we have had the chance to sort food, help with corporate groups as well as promote the food bank to the community. We have learned a lot about the problems people face putting good food on their tables at home.
What is your favourite part about volunteering as a family?
We like volunteering together because we talk and have fun. We meet interesting people and learn from everyone we connect with. After we sort food together or work with a corporate group we feel great. You know that you are making a difference with your family and that’s rewarding.
“You know that you are making a difference with your family and that’s rewarding”
What do you do outside of volunteering?
Outside of volunteering we play a lot of hockey in the winter and golf and tennis in the summer. We hang out with our friends and travel with our parents.
What do you tell your friends about your volunteering experience?
I tell them it is a great experience. Volunteering has changed my life and how I view things. I see that people are less fortunate than I am and I want to help people more. – Christian
The atmosphere at the food bank is great. Everyone is very friendly. Our friends have all asked us if they could come to sort food and help out. When we come to the food bank we don’t see the people who donate and we don’t see the clients that receive the food but we see all the people that come together in the middle to make it happen. Working with all these people, with their own reasons for volunteering, is so fascinating, uplifting and rewarding. Who knew that checking expiry dates, sorting food, making boxes, weighing all the donations could bring so many people together. – Matthew
Any memorable stories you’d like to share?
Last Christmas we were asked if we could help deliver some Christmas presents for one of the Food Bank programs. We all went out over the weekend to make sure that the kids received their gifts. All the kids were so happy to receive something special for themselves. It was moving because we were helping people get their Christmas. We were happy for our own Christmas because we were part of this experience.
One of the corporate groups we worked with was so cool that they decided to do a mannequin challenge during the food sorting. We had been in a flash mob before but never a mannequin challenge. Once everyone stopped laughing we all froze into position while they filmed. They put it to music and posted it on YouTube.
What would you say to someone that was thinking of becoming a volunteer?
Definitely don’t just think about volunteering. Volunteer! Even if you are a kid you can make a difference.
What are your family day plans?
We will make breakfast for our parents because we make wicked pancakes. We’ll probably play a few games. Watch an episode of the X Files. Chill with our cats. Make dinner together in a family master chef challenge
It’s so great hearing about different volunteer experiences! It truly enriches the lives of not only the person benefiting from the service, but also the volunteers themselves.
Thank you so much to Kathy, Matthew and Christian for making a huge difference in the warehouse and in the community!
Want to try volunteering? Click here to learn more!