By Jeanne Laverock

This drive started in early December when a local mom took some items and clothes to the Lido Motel on Kingston Road to drop off donations to the families.

As Suzanne Merrett Leet left the motel, a woman approached her and in broken English asked for help and specific items. She was a mother with a husband and five children staying in the motel. They arrived in Canada only two months ago.

Suzanne learned that the woman spoke Polish and she returned to the motel later with Aleksandra Guatieri, who speaks Polish and was able to confirm how desperate the situation was for the family. In addition to her own family, the mother’s sister and children were also staying in the motel.

A list was compiled of ages and sizes and specific requirements. They needed blankets, towels, pillows, pots for cooking soup (they were sharing two stoves with all of the residents in the motel and only had one soup pot). They had no toiletries, and were in need of clothing and winter items like boots, jackets and hats. They also needed non-perishable food.

Suzanne put out a call to action in our local Ladies of the Rouge Facebook group requesting the specific items. The response was immediate. Claire Wing offered her double garage as a dropoff and collection site. Within less than a week our incredible neighbourhood rallied together and filled Claire’s entire garage with new and gently used items. Kenny of the Platinum Lounge In Highland Creek also volunteered his event space for dropoff.

It took over two days to sort and organize it all. A group of women (Suzanne, Claire, Aleksandra, me and my daughter Lauren Reid) emptied each bag and box and sorted the items. On Thursday, December 16, the women took three carloads of items over to the family to ensure their needs were met.

“I loved that we all hit the ground running, overcame some crazy obstacles and in the end helped so many,” Suzanne said. “I would never change one minute of the week.“

For the remainder of the items, Suzanne contacted 43 Division and they offered their Community Service Officers to assist us in moving it. On December 17, it took the Toronto Police minivan and three large vehicles to move all of the items over to the Lido Motel.

A social worker welcomed the items and planned to hand them out to the residents of the motel. She said she was working with another local organization and that many of the blankets would be distributed to families living in shelters.

For those involved it was an overwhelming experience of gratitude and amazement at how quickly everyone banded together. The generosity of our neighbourhood is incredible!