Martin C. Winer

This is what happens when Martin gets tired of sending mass emails.

July 30, 2014

Taking a new approach to improving food donations during the warmer months, Grant Gordon is bringing the food drive closer to home.

Grant’s campaign, The Gratitude Bag, is a new kind of food drive taking off in Toronto. The director of Key Gordon Communications, a design firm dedicated to making positive impacts in the world, Grant is also a community advocate, making contributions close to home a top priority.

The concept for The Gratitude Bag came to Grant last summer after a conversation he had with a friend who was working at the Daily Bread Food Bank. He realized how troubling the hunger issue was for communities because of the shortage in food donations.

“I was told the shelves were getting more and more bare,” Grant said. “When the weather gets warm and sunny, people forget to donate.”

He explained that throughout the holiday season food bank donations are in high demand, but during the summer months they are often neglected. For the people who rely on them most, they are left with little to eat. According to The Gratitude Bag website, there has been an 18 percent increase in visits to food banks since 2008.


Grant Gordon

Looking for a way to improve the flow of donations, Grant thought that the best approach was to make it easier for residents. Rather than have donations dropped off at the food bank, his idea was to have the food drive come to the homeowners.

Working with Daily Bread, Grant was able to start a few small campaigns in his Riverdale community last summer. This summer, The Gratitude Bag has expanded into other areas such as Leslieville and the Pocket. With the help of volunteers who go around neighbourhoods, homeowners are easily able to contribute.

“We go to a neighborhood and we drop off flyers the day before we do a pick up,” Grant explained. “The flyer tells you we’re coming tomorrow and to get items ready. The next morning, volunteers leave a bag on your doorstep.”

Key Gordon Communications designed the bags and flyers, as well as The Gratitude Bag website. Residents are asked to fill their bags with canned goods and other non-perishable items and leave it on their step to be picked up later on. Already this summer the response for The Gratitude Bag has been overwhelming. Trevor Watt, the Director of Operations, said the results have surpassed their expectations.

“We’ve raised over ten tons of food so far since June,” he said. “What makes The Gratitude Bag campaign so great is how convenient it is. Residents are totally willing to participate, and they always have food in their pantry, but they don’t always have the time to bring it to the food bank. It’s the simplicity that gets people to jump on board.”

For Grant, one rewarding aspect of his initiative is seeing how many children want to help contribute donations. He also hopes that it will make residents more aware of the hunger issue.

“There are millions of visits to food banks in Toronto every year,” he said. “The numbers climb. If we keep filling these bags up and leaving them on the front doorstep, it’s a great help. It’s really heartwarming to see.”

Action items:

  • Visit The Gratitude Bag website to learn more about the initiative and to get involved:
  • To read more statistics about food banks in the GTA, visit the Daily Bread Food Bank website:


July 28, 2014

“Try to get involved this year. The year will go by really fast.”

That was the first thing my assistant principal, Mrs. Patterson, said to us at our first middle school assembly. Since I was new to the school and didn’t know many girls, I was really listening to what the speakers had to say. But getting involved in the school community was somewhat intimidating because I didn’t know too many people. A few days after the assembly, school was in full swing and there were many opportunities to choose from. Athletic teams, clubs, student council, community service. While I was thinking about how to get involved, I remembered another of Mrs. Patterson’s statements, warning us not to do too much or we would become overwhelmed by how much we would have on our plates.

Throughout the year, I participated in the school community in different ways. I was elected class rep at the start of the year. I made the Grade 9 soccer team in the fall, Grade 7 volleyball in the winter, and track and field in the spring. I also joined Art Club in the first term and went to as many house intramurals at lunch as I could. I managed to be able to keep up with all of my co-curricular activities except for the Art Club—I thought it was important to have enough time to eat lunch. Participating in these activities allowed me to meet more girls in my grade that I wouldn’t otherwise hang out with outside of class.

Havergal College assistant prinipal, Mrs. Patterson

At a later school meeting, I knew more girls and wasn’t focusing as much on the speakers—talking to my friends while trying not to get caught by teachers seemed more interesting. However, Mrs. Patterson caught my attention at Prayers, a time when the whole school gathers together to listen to different speakers. Mrs. Patterson was telling us about her disappointment when her women’s soccer team didn’t make it to the finals at provincials. She said that the loss was hard, but was important for improvement. This caught my interest because I also play soccer, and here was an adult who took her soccer as seriously as a kid. What she said really made me think. I knew that losing was hard, it wasn’t a good feeling, but it is what makes you reflect on what went wrong and what went right so you improve for the next time. This way of thinking can be applied to more than just sports. For example, if you get a grade in school that you don’t particularly like, you look back at it and see what to do next time to get a better grade.

At the end of the school year, the Middle School Council was having an end-of-year party. It was lots of fun with good food. Mrs. Patterson was still giving us useful advice even at the last meeting! At this time, the Executive Council for Grade 8 was elected. I was a part of it and the other girls who were elected for it were just as excited to start planning the year out once Grade 8 started. Mrs. Patterson, who was sitting with us, said, “It’s never too early to start planning for next year!” Grade 7 wasn’t done yet, we were close to starting exams, and my locker was still a mess, but we were getting ready for next year. Her gentle and calm reminders kept us thinking about the future.

What do assemblies, prayers and meetings have in common? They all provide opportunities to learn something new, be inspired, and reflect on ways to improve yourself. If you do listen to the speakers, you never know what you might learn—even if what your friends are saying seems much more interesting!

Flowers and CN Tower


“CN Tower peering down at the flowers.”
This photo was taken on the roof patio of 401 Richmond Street by Eva Karpati

Winston by Em Waugh

Winston checking out the wave sidewalk at the Harbourfront”
This photo of her Great Dane was taken by Em Waugh. To view her photography please visit her website:

Winston by Em Waugh

Winston checking out the wave sidewalk at the Harbourfront”
This photo of her Great Dane was taken by Em Waugh. To view her photography please visit her website:

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