Toronto Police Service members performed acts of giving in celebration of Christmas to connect with the most vulnerable members of our community.
Alin Savik and his family have had many challenges to overcome in the last few years.
Born with an intestinal disorder, one of their two children has had several surgeries and is due to undergo another one next month.
As a result, Savik’s wife quit her job to be by her son’s side.
The Rexdale family was one of three Toronto families selected to take part in a $500 Christmas Toys for Kids shopping spree at Canadian Tire at 1901 Eglinton Ave. E.
Toronto Police Service collaborated with the store and other community agencies for the annual event.
“My family is so very happy for this,” said Savik, who, with his wife, migrated to Canada a decade ago. “This is a very nice present for Christmas and we did not expect it.”
Constable Jennifer Dekezel has coordinated the initiative for the last 15 years.
She said the $10,000 goal was raised through cash register and drop box donations with the 1901 Eglinton Ave. E. store matching donations.
“These are families who have some challenges and we are so happy to be there for them at this time of year,” said Dekezel.
In addition to the three families, United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere (UMOVE), the Massey Centre for Women, Red Door Shelter, Bethany Church and Sick Kids Hospital were selected to participate in a $1,000 shopping spree.
Superintendent Warren Wilson and Pete Grande, the Toronto Police Association Director of Member Benefits, attended the event.
“This is an incredible program that has been going on for many years and Officer Jennifer Dekezel has done a great job,” said the 41 Division Unit Commander. “This is all about partnerships and helping out the community. We are really proud to be part of that and putting smiles on the faces of children and families in need.”
Communications Operators took part in two Christmas holidays initiative in the city.
On December 10, “A” platoon members delivered 220 lunches to people in need in 51 Division.
Toronto realtor Paul Burke, who has been supporting initiatives for vulnerable groups in the city in the last 15 years, played a key role in organizing the distribution.
The lunch bags included a sandwich, sweet treat, fruit and a bottle of juice. Some packages were filled with socks and hygienic products.
The Communications Operators involved in this project were Michelle Everest, Sandra O’Sullivan, Sam Zucca, Kelly Ann Carpino, Danielle Jones, Krystal Briden, Robert Jones, Deb Agius, Hillary Harvie, Barry Reeves, Krystan Walker, Angela MacDonnell and Alison Beck.
In partnership with the Gerstein Centre, Communications Operators also donated 50 full kits, including winter coats, hats, mitts, socks, lip balm, chocolates and $5 gift cards as part of the second initiative.
Communications Manager Kerry-Anne Murray-Bates is proud of her team.
“It is very hard for our people to have community engagement because of the work they do,” she said, of doing their work over the phone rather than in person. “They work really hard to have an impact on their community and to really identify places and opportunities for them to help and have a positive impact. We at Communications do a ton of charitable work throughout the year. I am so proud of my team because they do a lot of this work on their own time.”
On December 17, Toronto Police Auxiliary members in 41, 42 and 43 Divisions delivered Christmas toys to over 3,000 children, youth and their families in need in the Scarborough area.
“It was well received and the kids were very happy,” said Constable Alison Avery, who coordinated the drive.
In the last 28 years, thousands of children in need in Scarborough have received special gifts during the Christmas holidays.
Retired Auxiliary Officer Carrie Malin conceived the idea for the initiative in 1994.
“When someone calls 9-1-1, we do a great job to help,” said Superintendent Greg Watts who is the 42 Division Unit Commander. “But we also do a fantastic job helping people when nobody calls us.”
There were dozens more initiatives across the city by Toronto Police Service members ensuring toys, clothing and food was delivered to those who need it most leading up to Christmas.