The Angel Foundation for Learning’s Evening to Feed the Soul Gala, now in its eighth year, raises funds for disadvantaged Catholic students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Left to right: Emcee Marc Kielburger; AFL gala organizers Jessica Colucci, Marisa Celenza and Stephanie Caruso; and TCDSB director of education Bruce Rodrigues. Photo by Jean Ko Din

‘A Night in the Big Apple’ raises funds for TCDSB

By  Beatriz Jereza and Jean Ko Din, Youth Speak News
  • November 16, 2012

VAUGHAN, ONT. - It was a night of showbiz, glamour and big apples at The Angel Foundation for Learning’s eighth annual Evening to Feed the Soul Gala.

More than 850 guests attended the New York-themed event on Nov. 9 to support the Canadian charity that provides financial assistance to some 35,000 students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

In its 26th year of service, the AFL spent more than $2 million during the 2011-2012 school year on its four wings of support: student nutrition programs, social work, school trips and bursaries for high school students.

Most of the funding goes towards 133 nutrition programs in 109 sites within the TCDSB. The foundation spends $1.9 million to feed 30,000 elementary and secondary students daily.

According to AFL executive director Marisa Celenza, a retired school principal, the foundation's staff is “actually very small, with only six staff members.” However, it continues to support 40 per cent of students in the TCDSB. About five per cent of the overall revenue goes towards administration, and the rest of the finances help run the programs for students.

“The Angel Foundation of Learning is our official charity,” said Bruce Rodrigues, the Toronto board's director of education. “It means that when the school board raises funds, we give the foundation financial support first.”

“This is a good time to spend with friends at the Toronto Catholic District School Board community,” said Rodrigues of his first gala. “We’re united in work and now we’re united for a good cause for our students.

Returning as Master of Ceremonies for the gala was Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children with his brother Craig.

“Although Free the Children focuses internationally and the Angel Foundation for Learning focuses locally, we are both natural partners,” said Kielburger, an alumnus of Brebeuf College School. “I’ve always been part of the Toronto Catholic community, I know them and they know my brother and I very well.

“Free the Children has so much respect for what the Angel Foundation does.”

An early estimate is that the gala raised $60,000.

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