Volunteers sort through the donation piles at the Canadian Food for Children warehouse in Mississauga. Photo courtesy of Julia Mazlymian

York students learn charity through volunteer work

By  Alessia Loduca, Youth Speak News
  • September 9, 2016

Echoes of Mother Teresa’s charity are reverberating in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Catholic Chaplaincy at York University (CCY) celebrated Mother Teresa’s canonization Sept. 4 by supporting a charity the newly canonized saint had formed with her Canadian friends Andrew and Joan Simone.

Canadian Food For Children (CFFC), located in Mississauga, Ont., is a registered charity with the Canadian government founded by Toronto dermatologist Dr. Andrew Simone and his wife Joan in 1985. Simone and his wife met and worked with Mother Teresa and her sisters, the Missionaries of Charity in 1981. In 1985, she encouraged them to use the riches they had in Canada to raise food for the poor in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Since then, the charity has grown to support more than 40 developing countries around the world. Loretta Antonacci, volunteer co-ordinator at CFFC, said that because the charity is entirely run by volunteers, partnerships with student groups like CCY are essential.

“The vitality, enthusiasm and strength of young people are a big help in getting things done,” she said. “Helping out at the CFFC warehouse gives young people the opportunity to understand their poor and hungry brothers and sisters in the world.”

On Aug. 31, nine CCY members helped pack food and clothing to be sent to 22 developing nations. CCY pastoral assistant Dwayne Santos has been taking young adults to the warehouse since September of 2013 and increased the frequency to monthly visits in 2015.

“Part of our mission has been to have engagement in the greater society in CCY so it was an opportunity to have student bonding and work for a good cause,” said Santos.

The Aug. 31 visit was Julia Mazlymian’s first time volunteering at CFFC and she said that it will surely not be her last.

“We had to fold the clothes and put them in boxes,” said Mazlymian. “I always want to do something that’ll make a difference in other people’s lives. This was a way to make that impact.”

Not only does Mazlymian consider her time at CFFC to be treasured because it allowed her to assist those around the world in a meaningful way, but she also values it because it brought her closer to people in her own community.

“Doing the work with people from CCY made it a lot more enjoyable,” Mazlymian said. “Being able to work as a community was amazing.”

As pastoral assistant, this has been Santos’ goal all along. He wanted to begin monthly trips to CFFC because volunteering at the warehouse complements CCY’s goals as a student club.

The partnership has been beneficial to both sides. Volunteers grow in faith, companionship and charity while CFFC receives more necessary help to send essential goods to those who need it most.

“There is a great need all over the world,” said Antonacci. “But probably the most desperate at this time is in Liberia, followed by Sierra Leone.”

Antonacci said CFFC is always looking for volunteers to keep the organization running. To book a day to bring your group, e-mail Antonacci at cffc_studentgroups@hotmail.com. To volunteer at CFFC as an individual, visit the CFFC warehouse, located at 1258 Lakeshore Rd. E., any Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

(Loduca, 19, is a third-year education student with a major/minor in English and French at York University in Toronto.)

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