TORONTO - Traditionally, the holiday season usually starts immediately after the American Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November) and lasts through the end of December. In Canada, one can already find signs of the Holiday Season and Halloween has not yet passed.
This year has been one like no other, thanks to Covid-19. So, why not get a head start on some holiday cheer. One way to get into that holiday spirit is though helping others.
This is what one “driven and accomplished” woman, Esther Carenza, is doing to give back to the community of North York and beyond. Steeped in volunteerism and services of a legal and medical nature overseas, Carenza is involved with underprivileged members of society, doing what she can to help people of all ages and all walks of life.
From an early age, she was encouraged by her family to participate in, and engage with, the community. Her passionate nature (courtesy of her Italian roots) lies at the base of her commitment to helping others. In fact, she organizes various events to help support local families in need. For example, as Chair of the Children’s Holiday Get Together and Other Events, currently in its 4th year, Carenza helps bring joy to some of the underserved members of North York.
This past Sunday’s event, “was a huge success”, said Carenza. It was held at different Toronto Community Housing locations along the Jane/Finch corridor and drew in participants from all over.
With the generous donations from sponsors like The Body Shop, The Children’s Place and York University, among them, bountiful care packages were gifted to the children. Contents included clothing, shoes, accessories, creative art supplies; the list goes on.
Usually, the event takes place later in the year. However, in light of Covid-19 cases increasing and areas of the GTA moving back into modified stage two, it was moved up on the calendar (October 18). The goal was to ensure the children received something special before any further “lockdown” measures are imposed.
This is an on-going “gift-giving initiative - event”. By the time it is completed, Carenza hopes to have reached and brightened the lives of more than a thousand children, inclusive of all racial backgrounds, multicultural heritage and all religious beliefs.
Covid-19 restrictions did not dampen the spirits of all who participated. Normally, there would be food and snacks aplenty. This year, as part of Covid-19 restrictions, no buffet was served. However, safely sealed organic/gluten- free cookies and sweet treats tantalized the children’s taste buds.
This event is not the only one the organization hosts. There are more to come in the weeks and months ahead, both in person or virtually, pending any further restrictions. For instance, this evening, Professor Laurence Harris of York University, will be holding a zoom event for children, speaking about space with the intension to open their minds and how to “reach for the stars”. Other events include virtual dance lessons to encourage children to be active and have fun.
The coming holiday season, some families may experience hardships in the wake of Covid-19. Hopefully, more community members, like Esther Carenza, will recognize a need in their neighbourhood and do what they can to help brighten the lives of their fellow citizens.