The boys could have spent their Family Day relaxing and hanging out with their friends in Toronto’s east end, but instead they gave a couple hours of their time to a local Out of the Cold program.
For the past four years, members of the Ted Reeve Tornados minor bantam hockey team, along with some of their siblings and friends, have gathered in the Memorial Hall at the Church of St. Aidan in the Beach to prepare a meal and set up the dining room for the Monday evening program.
“It’s fun to be here with my team,” said 13-year-old Parker Kruger, who plays centre.
Like several of his teammates, Parker, a Beach resident, spent his fourth consecutive Family Day helping the less fortunate.
“It’s just nice to help out.”
Right-winger Sam Watson, 13, said while it’s a team-building thing, he’s there because he wants to help.
“It’s nice to do this for the homeless people and those who don’t have much, and it’s fun,” Sam, who is from the Pape-Danforth area, said as he chopped apples.
Teammate Jeremy Corrigan, who lives near Woodbine Avenue and Gerrard Street East, agreed.
“It’s a good team-building exercise, and it’s a nice thing to do,” he said, while also on chopping duty.
“I think of how fortunate I am.”
Former Beaches-East York MP and hockey dad Matthew Kellway has volunteered with the program since 2009. His 13-year-old son Rory also plays for the Tornados.
“This is a chance to teach the kids some cooking skills, and to make a contribution to the community and to those who could use some help,” said Kellway, who is behind the team’s volunteer efforts.
“The point is that they’ll remember this, the program, and why they were here, and hopefully it’ll inspire them to do it for themselves in the future.”
Kellway said volunteering together is a great way for the team to bond and form friendships outside the rink.
Mike Jensen, the director of food and beverage for the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel and Conference Centre, started volunteering his cooking skills to the program four years ago. His son Trent is on the team.
“I think it’s great for the kids to give back to the community a little bit,” he said while wrapping up the cooking of the day’s meal, which included roast pork loin with apple chutney, chopped salad, chick pea curry, roasted yams, green beans, rolls, and tiramisu for dessert.
Jensen said volunteering for the program helps the boys better understand why it’s important to be empathetic, and not judge others.
Steve Phyper’s son Landon is also on the team. He joined the boys at St. Aidan’s on Monday afternoon.
“It really gives the kids an insight into the lives of the less fortunate,” he said, adding it’s important to get involved in the community and give back.
“They realize how fortunate they do have it. This is just a great exercise for them.”
The Out of the Cold program at St. Aidan’s, which is now in its 11th season, provides a warm meal for up to 70 guests and overnight accommodation for 25 men and women. This year’s program runs from the start of November to the end of April, and expects to serve over 1,600 dinners and welcome more than 600 overnight guests.
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