Trisha Natesan led a drive this summer to collect bars of soap to be donated to the poor through Canadian Food for Children. Photo courtesy Canadian Food for Children

Youth cleans up with soap drive

By 
  • October 19, 2020

In previous summers, work shifts at the Canadian Food for Children (CCFC) warehouse in Mississauga, Ont., would be staffed by large parish youth groups.

COVID-19 changed the staffing capacity equation in 2020, but the CFFC leadership team remained resolute in its goal to empower young people to help the poor around the world. New guidelines enabled six people to work in the storeroom per shift, and youth would ideally fill four out of those slots.

Young people did not even need to leave home to support the nonprofit organization that helps feed the poor around the world.

“I encouraged kids to sign up for our volunteer from home program,” said Brian Finamore, CFFC chaplain. “They needed to register with us and state in their registration about what they planned to do help the (CFFC), and they needed to promise to follow all health and safety regulations.”

Fifteen-year-old Trisha Natesan answered this call with a “social distancing” soap collection drive. She e-mailed friends and family, put up posters around Mississauga and placed letters in her neighbours’ mailboxes to encourage people to donate bars of soap at her family home that would be shipped to the less fortunate overseas.

“Everyone wants to feel clean — especially during a pandemic,” said the Grade 10 student at Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. “That is why I thought collecting bars of soap would be a good idea because there are people in our world who don’t have access to the health supplies they need.”

She collected more than 100 bars of soap over one week in August, which she dropped off at the CFFC warehouse in early September. She persuaded people who stopped by her house to donate by espousing the global reach of the CFFC and advocating that one bar of soap can be transformational for an individual or family.

Finamore says soap is considered one of the most valuable commodities offered by the CFFC.

“Dr. Andrew Simone (CFFC founder) has said to me very often that if you give a poor person a choice between food and soap, more often than not they will take the soap,” he said. “It is so precious. People want to be clean and people want their children to be clean.”

Finamore was impressed with the ingenuity and initiative Natesan displayed while completing the volunteer from home challenge. He emphasized that Simone did not expect overwhelming donation hauls from the youth who pledged to participate.

“Simone said, ‘don’t make the kids feel like they have to bring 1,000 bars of soap. If all they could do is bring together 10 bars, or five bars, that’s good.’ Do what you can to get involved and keep a spot in your heart for the poor,” said Finamore.

“Jesus loves small things. He blesses and multiplies small blessings like we saw with the fishes and the loaves. What little things we bring, Jesus will magnify and make them big.”

The volunteer from home challenge is continuing this autumn. See canadianfoodforchildren. net or e-mail Finamore at cffchelpthepoor2020@ gmail.com.

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