On a sunny Saturday afternoon on 19 August, the Canadian Community Services Organization held its third annual free “Back To School Backpack” giveaway. The event, aimed at supporting the back-to-school journeys of students in the community, took place at the East York Town Centre from three to five in the afternoon. 

Over a span of several hours, around seventeen hundred backpacks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits were given away to local students in Grade 8 and below. All residents from the Thorncliffe community were eligible to attend, and each family received a maximum of two bags.

The event was only made possible through months of planning by the CCSO team, headed by president Masood Alam. CCSO also enlisted the help of volunteers from the surrounding area, who assisted with registration and giveaway procedures. For the sake of safety and order, the organization also obtained the help of the Toronto Police Services.

Special attendees to the event included Olivia Chow, the newly elected mayor of Toronto, as well as Gillian Evans, the new principal of Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute. The event was Mrs. Chow’s first public appearance in Thorncliffe, and she commended the CSSO team for the exceptional community service they were providing. 

Mrs. Evans took the opportunity to comment on the positive impact that the event had on local students and reaffirmed her goals to serve the community as the new principal of the local high school. Other guests to the event included the representatives of local politicians, ministers and board members of local churches, sponsors, and community leaders. 

On top of being an important community activity, the event was also a joyous gathering for local residents. Children of all ages enjoyed the wonderful weather, purchased ice cream from an ice cream truck, and those eligible walked away with a shiny new bag, ready and excited for the new school year.