With the cold weather settling in and the holiday season just around the corner, Scarborough students are giving back to those who are less fortunate in the community.
University and high school students are giving away clothes, toys and food to families who need it to make this winter more enjoyable for them.
Stella Ojiegbe, a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC), began the Women’s Centre Winter Outerwear Clothing Drive this season at the school.
“Winter is very harsh in Toronto and a lot of women cannot afford to buy proper winter coats,” Ojiegbe said. “If they have kids, they have to keep spending money on their clothes because they grow quickly.
“I thought this would be a good way to give back.” She said they are also accepting scarves, gloves and thick sweaters (used or new).
Ojiegbe said she’s focusing on women’s clothing because people would have more access to them.
However, students are more than welcome to donate for children as well.
Most UTSC students take the bus to school so she didn’t expect many donations because carrying them might be difficult, she said. She was also afraid the announcements she made on the school’s website would be ignored.
But people are participating. She said one student even donated five coats.
Members of the Women’s Centre and volunteers will be putting the clothes into bags and taking them to a local women’s charity, not yet chosen.
The drive began on Nov. 1 and it will end on the last day of classes, Dec. 27.
“I’m happy people are actually making an effort and they have acknowledged that there are people in need,” Ojiegbe said. “My friends and I always talk about buying new jackets but there are people who cannot afford to do that.”
Students at Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School are also actively giving back to the community as the schools hosts its annual food and toy drive – a staple of the last 25 years.
Teacher Suzanne Regimbal, who helps run the event, says each classroom sponsors a family from St. Thomas More Church and they help make Christmas better by providing food and toys, which are new and wrapped.
“The students and the teachers take a lot of pride in this. The teachers usually select the child and they are responsible for reminding their students to bring things in and to get them excited about it,” Regimbal said.
Approximately 50 families are sponsored. Once they know the age of the children, the students decide on appropriate gift ideas.
The drive begins on Dec. 1 and runs until Dec.17. There’s usually between 3,000 to 5,000 items that are collected, she said.
“It’s important to be charitable and generous,” she said. “This is definitely something the students work hard for.”