By ALANA RAYMAN
Carolyn Griffis has been helping her community by supporting food programs for those in need for more than 12 years, and the need is being magnified now as families deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
A realtor with ReMax Hallmark, she and several other local realtors help support the Toronto District School Board’s breakfast, snack and lunch programs, The Toronto Foundation For Student Success, Adopt A Child and the Access Community Centre at Main Street and Danforth Avenue.
“We have been fundraising to help the neediest families,” explained Griffis.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, thousands of children are not able to access the breakfast, lunch and snack programs that they are usually a part of at their schools.
Since the schools are closed to stop the spread of COVID-19, Griffis has been helping to collect donations to buy $100 grocery store gift cards for families in need with the help of local realtors, their clients and friends.
“We’ve raised almost $10,000 and hope to keep it growing,” said Griffis.
She is currently working with 13 schools, including Secord Public School, to help make sure the students get nutritious meals.
“It’s a huge crisis right now. The kids can’t go to school. The families are struggling. They make minimum wage or just work part time, so it’s a very difficult time for everyone right now,” said Griffis.
She said the gift card program started in mid-March once it became apparent schools were going to be closed for an extended period of time, and students in need were going to have to find other nutrition options.
She uses a database built up over the years of local realtors, and those they know, who are able to help.
“The database has been instrumental in helping these programs,” said Griffis. “It’s a whole community that helps one another and has been building for years.”
She said those who are receiving the store gift cards are extremely grateful for the help at this difficult time.
“Some families burst into tears when they see us delivering them, and some people send us beautiful texts and messages,” said Griffis.
Griffis is a board member of the The Toronto Foundation For Student Success which works hand-in hand with the TDSB and allocates funds directly to the neediest schools.
Those wishing to make a donation can do so by visiting https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/toronto-foundation-for-student-success/p2p/carolyn-griffis-covid19/
“This is not a one-time thing,” said Griffis. “The people who are receiving this help will need the same assistance the next week, and probably next.”