Formed in the Beach, volunteers from Sandwich Sisters have made and delivered tens of thousands of meals to shelters during COVID-19 pandemic

Volunteers from the Sandwich Sisters deliver food to a Toronto shelter. Formed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sandwich Sisters now more than 280 volunteers and have made and delivered tens of thousands of sandwiches and other food items. Photo: Submitted.

By AMANDA GIBB

From the Beach to neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area, Sandwich Sisters volunteers have prepared thousands of sandwiches for shelters since the end of March.

“When the (COVID-19) pandemic hit, I thought, well, the shelters have to be hurting. I reached out to them and they said that they needed to close their kitchens down because of the pandemic,” said Beach resident Carolyn Quigley.

Quigley said that she enlisted the help of her friends to make sandwiches every week to donate to the shelters.

“We started off with eight of us making sandwiches in our homes over Zoom calls,” said Quigley.

What started as a small act of community kindness has evolved to 14 “pods” across the city with more than 280 volunteers donating more than 53,000 sandwiches plus other foods to multiple shelters.

“Each day I was getting emails from everywhere. Toronto, Hamilton, North York, Leaside, Etobicoke, everywhere,” said Quigley.

Quigley said that Lori Wells came up with the name Sandwich Sisters and has a number of other responsibilities within the group.

“She has been keeping count of everything from sandwiches, juice boxes, snack bars, apples, and oranges. And she puts the pods together,” said Quigley.

Each pod of volunteers has one pod leader that is in charge of making sure volunteers know what they’re doing, keeping a schedule, and reporting numbers back to Wells.

“The pod leaders also supply food, funded by donations, to the members. However, 99 per cent of the pods are self-sustainable or self-funded. They also pick up and deliver the goodies to the shelters,” said Quigley.

Right now, Sandwich Sisters donates food to many shelters including the Native Cultural Centre, The Sanctuary, Yonge Street Mission, and others.

Sandwich Sisters have also received many donations from different grocery store chains across the city including Sobeys, Metro, No Frills, and others.

Quigley said that Natalia Kostiw, a key member of Sandwich Sisters, inspired hundreds of students across the city to volunteer. She said that they can sign off on volunteer hours required by high school students to graduate.

Quigley said that volunteering is a way to feel more in touch with the community as many people may feel isolated during the pandemic.

“You get to know the parents who drop off sandwiches and the people who are super generous with their time. It’s significant what people do,” said Quigley.

She said that right now there is still a need for more volunteers.

To learn more about Sandwich Sisters, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sandwichsisterspods


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