Brandon Arkinson is a busy MBA student at Ryerson University, yet he still finds time to support the homeless.
“Moving Hope is a federally incorporated, not-for-profit organization that supports the homeless and the vulnerable in downtown Toronto,” explained Arkinson, founder of Moving Hope. “Our team of volunteers leave out 500 hundred pairs of red gloves every winter for anyone in a vulnerable situation to take.
“Gloves are donated to us, some people knit gloves, or we get simple red gloves from Dollarama.”
The program started six years ago in response to seeing the overwhelming need in the downtown core.
“I saw so many people that were sleeping outside in frigid weather,” recalled Arkinson. “I really wanted to respond and do something compassionate to help take care of the community. That’s what we should all be doing as a city.”
Also responding to the need is primary teacher Briana Fitzpatrick from Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood.
“I was in the community and I came across a pair of gloves in a bag and I thought, ‘okay, what is this? I need to find out more,’” said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick runs a lunchtime girl’s art program at Nelson Mandela and after going online and learning about the initiative, Fitzpatrick asked her Grade 1 and 2 students if they wanted to help give back and make cards of hope for those in need.
“They love art. They’re so passionate about art so it was really an easy in when it comes to creating,” Fitzpatrick said.
Student Zahra Ahmed wrote, “I hope you have a nice day. I hope you’re not cold, love Zahra.”
“They are learning about empathy, trying to start the learning process at a young age,” said Fitzpatrick.
In their own words, they’re writing messages of hope and compassion simply to let someone they don’t know, know how much they care.
Jasmine Beyene wrote, “I hope you stay warm, from Jasmine.”
“I think they’re going to say, ‘Thank you,’” Beyene said. “And I like it.”
“It’s absolutely inspiring seeing the messages of love and hope that come from some of these students,” Arkinson said. “The notes are so pure from the heart and I know that really resonates with so many people living on the street.
“I can’t thank Nelson Mandela Park and their students enough.”