When I was five years old, I started practising dance at a studio in downtown Ottawa. In comparison to other areas in the city, the downtown region has a large homeless population, and so while growing up, I regularly witnessed this issue.
Eventually when I was 11, I started to wonder: how in a developed city where there is no deficit of resources, can there be people who are forced to spend even one night on the streets, forced to spend even one night hungry or cold? I came to learn that there are many reasons an individual might be homeless, and that this issue is much more variable and complex than it seems.
Nonetheless, I realized that just because something is “normal” doesn’t make it alright. I was moved to contribute to relieving this issue, and so later that summer, I decided to make and donate sandwiches to the Shepherds of Good Hope – a local homeless shelter in the downtown area. I started out making 50 sandwiches every two weeks, with the intention of personally making 10,000 sandwiches by the time I complete high school in 2022.
While I learned a lot from personally making sandwiches, I realized that to truly contribute to the community, others need to be inspired to take action on their own terms. A group of people working together can accomplish more than an individual can alone.
In October 2017, I organized a sandwich making session at my middle school where student volunteers came together for one hour and made 1,300 sandwiches for the city’s homeless. Twice a year since then, students have enthusiastically returned to participate in this initiative and collectively make over one thousand sandwiches at each session.
At our Fall 2018 session, we even had the honour and privilege of a visit from our Mayor, Mr. Jim Watson
Currently, I am working on creating a National Sandwich Making Initiative in which schools across the country organize a similar event in support of their local homeless shelters.
Through this event, I hope that students experience the rewarding feeling associated with directly giving back to one’s community. Furthermore, I hope that this sentiment inspires them to pursue their own incredible causes with consistency and originality.