TORONTO — The Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation announced the launch of its JUST GIVE campaign against the backdrop of planes, trucks and police automobiles in a hangar at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Wednesday, April 19.
The JUST GIVE campaign is designed to inspire kindness, with an aim to fill community food banks for the summer — a season when they traditionally run empty, but client visits increase. The Just Give food drive will fill the gap between Easter and Thanksgiving.
Additionally, a matching gift of $250,000 from an anonymous donor means the campaign has the potential to raise $500,000 for the food banks.
“True joy comes from giving,” said Clemons, former football player and coach of the Toronto Argonauts. “I don’t believe that we can sincerely help another without helping ourselves.”
The vehicles symbolized the partnerships forged between JUST GIVE and Air Canada, Purolator, and Trucks For Change. Together with eight regional police services and 14 food banks representing municipalities from Niagara to Durham, along with community leaders representing 24 communities throughout the GTA, the foundation announced plans to help the hungry and fill the food banks this summer.
Durham Regional Police Service will be participating in the Cram-a-Cruiser Food Drive for the second year this spring. Schools in the region are invited to sign up through the justgive.ca website, collect food and cram it into a police cruiser on the final day of the campaign, May 17.
Durham police Insp. Bruce Townley said he would like more schools to register for the drive.
“This year, we’re well prepared. We have six schools confirmed and hoping to have more schools to jump on board.”
Insp. Townley said there is a huge need in Durham Region.
“There’s a lot of people out there in desperate need of some assistance, whether it’s food or anything else. We have an organization here that’s directly tied to Feed the Need in Durham (FTND), obviously, we’re going to support that.”
The inspector said he was concerned about the growing numbers of hungry residents across the region, both young and old.
“They’re in desperate need of some support and help in many different ways,” said Townley. “Seniors now outnumber the amount of youth in Durham Region. A lot of seniors are very proud and humble and don’t necessarily want to reach out. It is a true honour to work with them and know we are putting food on the tables that are in desperate need.”
Townley said the police service works closely with FTND, which supplies 54 emergency food banks and five school nutrition programs to more than 6,500 clients a month — 38 per cent of whom are children. Additionally, FTND distributed 1.7 million pounds of food in 2016.
Durham Region Just Give ambassador Liam Howe has been spearheading the campaign locally with his father, Bill Howe. The Ashburn residents have been visiting with local mayors to promote awareness and gain the support of each community.
“It is great to see all the police regions come together, everyone united,” said Liam. “So far, we’ve raised $20,000, which equals $40,000 with the matching. Our target is $25,000. I think we’re going to exceed it.”
“Pinball” challenged everyone to get involved. Educators and students can register their schools for the Cram-a-Cruiser event. Other community groups such as sports organizations, churches or corporations can raise food or funds. More information can be found at justgive.ca.
The JUST GIVE campaign runs on a zero budget and 100 per cent of the donations will reach the food banks.