Creating community one child at a time

No price can be put on the benefits of making connections.


Colum and Irene Keenan, children of columnist Edward Keenan, delivering boxes for the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund.

My 8-year-old son Colum asked me a pressing holiday question.
“Dad,” he said, “does Christmas fall during boxing week every year?”
This was on Saturday, the last big shopping weekend before Christmas, and the blowout savings had already begun. I’d been driving around with Colum and his 6-year-old sister Irene all day, so we knew all about the big sales. My kids like to listen to the radio station that plays nothing but Christmas songs, which means that between repeats of Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime and Winter Wonderland, we listen to a lot of Christmas commercials.
I explained the history and evolution of the marketing of holiday retail sales, and we all had a good laugh. But his question seemed perfectly natural in the stuff-you’ll-want-at-the-prices-you’ll-love, all-shopping-all-the-time environment of the post-millennial Christmas season. It can sometimes seem that the story of Santa Claus is just another reminder of how you can fulfill your wish list with no money down.
We weren’t shopping, that last weekend before the big day. Colum and Irene and I were participating in another Christmas tradition, one that reminded us of the spirit of the season from the opposite direction: focused not our abundant opportunities to get stuff, but our equally abundant and more important opportunities to give to those around us, particularly those in need. We were delivering gifts on behalf of the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund.
In 1906, the Star’s founder Joseph Atkinson, a child of poverty who had benefitted from the generosity of others, began asking readers to donate money to buy gifts to distribute to children who might otherwise get few or none. The tradition he started has continued and grown every year since, and now delivers a bit of joy to children in five GTA cities. This year, Star readers helped the fund reach its goal of $1.6 million in donations, helping to buy, wrap and deliver 45,000 gifts.
“It’s always wonderful to see the generosity of Star subscribers, employees, and people who have been touched by the Star and the fund in its over century in existence,” says Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank. “The core of the whole exercise is fundamentally about belonging. For us it’s been part of the mandate of the Star for more than a century to declare that those people who are not included in other people’s visions of the city are part of our city. They are our fellow citizens. We place great hope in their futures. And this is such a small thing for us to do. This is part of how we see ourselves in this city. We do it in the paper, in the website and the tablet every day, and this is, for some small children, this is a more tangible way to do that. To say you do belong.”
Some donations came in large packages, like the $10,000 from Ross Petty, an annual donor who has donated $250,000 to the fund since 1998, or from the family of the late Gary Zentil, who carried on his annual Charity Spin fitness event, donating $20,800. Other events brought communities together, such as the 36th annual Toronto Star Concert at St. Paul’s that raised more than $46,000. Many more individual donations poured in, in amounts small and large, which ensured the target was met and children had gifts to smile about.
Others gave their time — the Santa Fund drew on the work of several hundred volunteers this year, who wrapped gifts in our warehouses and distributed them across the city and beyond, to Mississauga, Brampton, Ajax and Pickering. Scouts Canada played a large role in delivery, as did members of church and school groups and service clubs. More than 450 general public volunteers helped out this year, too. From across the city, people chipped in to make Christmas a little brighter for a lot of children.
My own children were giddy at being able to help out — we woke early to get to the warehouse, load up the car with a couple dozen festively decorated boxes and hit the road. We delivered to an area in west Toronto north of St. Clair, only a few blocks from our house, spending more than seven hours on the road and on people’s doorsteps. My daughter and son would read the names and ages of the children we were delivering to and shout them. “She’s a 6-year-old girl,” she exclaimed at one point, “she’s just like me!” These were our neighbours, and in meeting them that day we underlined our own sense of belonging in our community.
We met grateful fathers at the doors of apartment blocks, smiling mothers in basement apartments, kids in strollers outside their bungalows. At each door, we said “Merry Christmas.”
At each door the response was the same. “Thank you.”
It’s a heartfelt message of gratitude delivered to us, but meant for all those readers, staff, and volunteers who donated their time and money to make the Santa fund a success again this year.
I extend the same message to you on behalf of my own family. At one point, we were standing in an apartment door on Winona Dr., and my children gave a gift directly to a 2-year-old girl who’d come to the door with her mother to meet us. Her mother and I exchanged greetings but the kids exchanged something else: the little girl stared at them wide-eyed with wide-open grin, as if she couldn’t believe what was happening. Colum and Irene giggled and cheered for her, sharing her excitement.
That’s a feeling of connection you can’t buy at a boxing week sale.
Thank you.
Edward Keenan writes on city issues . Follow: @thekeenanwire






Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Colum is a lucky girl. In Ontario 99% of all custody decisions by Judges result in a mother getting custody and a child never having a real father in their lives again.

Ontario promotes domestic violence and abuse of children by reason of giving absolute power to one gender, women, mothers even when they are the most violent and least suitable to be entrusted with the responsibilities of being a parent.

That raises a cycle of dysfunctional children who grow up predisposed to being psychopaths, borderline personalities and breeding ever more generations of destructive dysfunctional children.

For this we can thank Ontario's "Authorities" such as the Criminal Cartel of 54 Private Unaccountable Children's Aids Societies who see themselves as a "Mother's Aid Society", that very effectively support violence by women towards children and fathers.

Their lack of accountability is primarily due to the Judiciary, hired as Lawyers by the CAS who are then anointed as judges after a career of fabricating evidence.

Ottawa CAS lawyer Marguerite Lewis is perhaps Ontario's worst child abusing evidence fabricating criminal. Her blatant criminal actions are ignored by an endless line of Judges all who support Ontario's Fas.cist program of Gender Superiority.

Ottawa Mens Centre




AT this Christmas time, spare a thought for the children of full time fathers who call 911 when the violent mothers who assault children and fathers, get what Judge Paul Kane referred to as "A Free Pass".

In Ottawa the Ottawa police use around 75% of their 400 Million dollar budget to Promote Violence by women towards men in the form of their "Partner Assault" that is part of Ontario's Fas.cist Gender Superiority Program.

It's called "old school policing" thats the nice name given to Criminals in Uniform like Det. Peter Van Der Zander who Fabricates evidence NOT to charge women who attempt to strangle to death the fathers of their children, knowing, that a Rotten Cop like Det. Van Der Zander will come to their rescue and NOT charge them and remove the children from the care of a full time father simply to support "the statistics" that are based on fabrications upon fabrications that men are violent and women are victims.

At this time of year, spare a thought for how the very worst criminals in society like The Child Abusing Det. Peter Van Der Zander of the Ottawa Police Fabricates evidence to abuse children and victims of crime.

Ottawa Mens Centre