Markham Economist & Sun
By Amanda Persico
Children of all ages can make a difference in their community.
That’s the message behind a new social justice group, the Giving Tree.
The goal is to encourage local youth to make a difference through action while learning about social issues, such as bullying , hunger and homelessness.
While the group of about 25 local youth learn about said issues, the focus is stirring up action.
“Everyone wants to do some good,” said group founder Shanta Sundarason.
“We all think it, nothing comes of it.”
(Sundarason, a mother of three teens, is also spearheading the anti-train whistle campaign.)
Having grown up in Singapore, a democratic country but with heavy censorship, this local mom wants to put action in the hands of local youth.
“Kids can take ownership,” Sundarason said. “Nothing is impossible. No is never the answer.”
So far, the group has written letters to the new Prime Minister and Youth Minister, Justin Trudeau.
The Giving Tree is hosting a food and winter accessories drive, the We Scare Hunger and We Scare Away the Cold, Dec. 4 between 3 and 9 p.m. at the Bandstand on Main Street in Unionville.
The group is collecting non-perishable food items for the local food bank as well as winter accessories, such as hats, mittens and scarves for the local homeless shelter.
After the drive, the group plans to go to the local shelter to help give out the winter accessories to the homeless.
“We don’t just collect and drop off,” Sundarason said. “That’s not what we stand for. I want to encourage this group to talk to the homeless and ask questions. Ask if there is anything they can personally do.”
It’s one thing to set up a donation box, it’s another matter to make a connection to the cause, she added.
“When you connect with an issue, that’s when you learn from the situation,” she said.
Along with the hunger and cold drives, the group is also looking at donating funds to help feed children in rural China, India or Ecuador for a year.
Each member of the group has signed a contract and promised to do chores around the house to earn extra pay that will go toward donations.
Without a contract, the funds will just come from the parents, Sundarason said.
To work for it will mean more to them, she added.
The group plans to host a fitness festival for the community in the spring.
The youth social group meets every Monday, 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Stiver Mill in Unionville.
Let us not only leave a better world for our children,
but leave better children for our world.