Volunteers rehearse their routine in preparation for Friday's entertainment blitz of the TTC, raising funds for Tokens 4 Change.

Buskers to brave weather to cheer up TTC riders

Commuters on the TTC will be in for a bit of a surprise Friday.

Now in its third year, Tokens 4 Change will take place on Friday, Feb. 8.

There will be a total of 500 volunteers accepting donations, performing and busking in subway stations and PATH location throughout the GTA.

Of these 500 volunteers, 400 are youth working in partnership with Youth Without Shelter (YWS).

YWS is an emergency residence in Etobicoke for youth aged 16-24. They regularly give workshops in schools in the GTA, educating students on the myths and stereotypes of youth homelessness.

Judy Leroux, development manager at YWS, said that many youth volunteer for T4C because they see themselves as peers supporting an issue that affects their peers.

“(The youth participate) so that they could express about homelessness as a social issue and how to take action,” Leroux said.

Naomi Tessler, Artistic Director of Branch Out Theatre, works in collaboration with T4C and YWS. She specializes in using theatre as a tool for social change.

Performances are an important way to get the community engaged, Tessler said.

“I think (performance) attracts attention in a different way because it pulls people in and holds them there,” she said.

Tokens 4 Change performances will take place at different venues and times during the day.

Non-performing volunteers will be on hand to accept donations, both monetary and tokens, from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. (see map for more details on locations).

Tokens 4 Change performs all around Toronto

Tokens 4 Change will hold their central rally at the ING Direct Café (221 Yonge St.). At 3:30 p.m., all performances will gather there for a show. Pizza slices will be available at the central rally for a $1 donation between the hours of 12 to  p.m and 3 to 4 p.m.

All funds raised will go directly to YWS. The funds will help sustain the needs of the youth at the shelter, such as providing a place to sleep and nutritious food to eat.

“The funds are directed towards the essential support programs here and also the transit needs of the youth,” Leroux said.

YWS helps around 1,000 youth each year.

Last year, Tokens 4 Change raised $75,000. This year, their goal is $100,000.

“Our goal is to continue to impact the lives of (the youth),” Leroux said. “Community support is what makes the difference here.