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Volunteer prepares to feed hungry, cold in Toronto

Sonia Facchini and about 80 friends from Kleinburg’s St. Padre Pio Catholic Church parish will be paying a visit to the Good Shepherd Centre in downtown Toronto next Saturday.

They will be bringing 150 bagged lunches with them to the homeless shelter, along with clothing and non-perishable food items, all to lend a helping hand to those in need, Facchini says. It’s something she’s been doing for 15 years.

“It’s become an annual thing,” she says of the holiday event. “When it’s Christmastime, people know Sonia and her little group are going to head downtown and feed the homeless.”

Just like this summer’s Momma’s Carwash, a charity event she ran with her brother Michael, Facchini says the idea for the yearly trip was spurred on by her mother’s support of charitable causes.

“She kind of inspired me to do it,” Facchini says. “Everyone thought I was crazy at 18, that I wanted to do it, but she stuck behind me.”

On Dec. 14, volunteers will gather at St. Andrew’s school to make the bagged lunches to be given to the homeless the following day — and the bags will be “full”, she says: a sandwich, drink, fruit, vegetable, cookie and a little extra something.

To cover the cost of making the lunches, Facchini had been asking for donations of money, and says the public’s response has been very good.

“The community’s been so great with donating things that we need,” she says.

But more than just the lunches, Facchini, along with St. Padre Pio’s confirmation class, youth group and Knights of Columbus chapter, will bring with them donated clothing and canned goods they have collected.

And the group won’t be confined to the shelter alone, Facchini adds.

“We also walk the streets of downtown Toronto,” she says. “We find homeless people (in need) and we give them something to eat and some clothes as well, and that includes hats, gloves, scarves, socks, pants — everything you can think of.”

Though she knows the likelihood of cold and otherwise inclement weather is high, she says that has never deterred her. Quite to the contrary, she says she’s praying for a cold day “because then the kids will appreciate what they have”.

Everyone joining Facchini in making the lunches and visiting the shelter next weekend is volunteering the time. Facchini said their help is crucial to the success of the event every year.

“The volunteers are fantastic,” she says. “Everyone that comes down are volunteers and they have a hoot of a time.

“Some of them even continue doing things with the shelter after going there and seeing what it’s all about.”

It is in that spirit of giving that Facchini says she has organized this event every holiday season for 15 years.

“It’s just a time to give,” she says. “Everyone should feel welcomed and loved.

“No one should be left out.”

Vaughan Today
Online: December 11, 2007 [link]