Back to Our Impact

Three people posing for camera

A Real Life Santa Claus: Supplying gifts of food across the community

Retired for over two decades, YSM volunteer Gus goes above and beyond to source and share donated food with YSM, for staff to make into nourishing meals for community members.

Growing up, Gus was always providing food to his neighbours as his family had a grocery store on Centre Island. He remembers busy Sundays spent selling fruit – especially big slices of watermelon for $0.10 each – to island visitors enjoying idyllic summer days.

Later Gus worked as a purchasing manager at a large company. At holiday time, his employer gave away turkeys and, when they had extra, Gus would deliver them to YSM. He credits his sister Mary for introducing him to YSM and our Evergreen Centre where she used to support street-involved youth.

From first donating holiday turkeys to YSM, it was years until Gus effectively became a full-time volunteer supplying hundreds of pounds of food – fruits, vegetables, baked goods and more – to YSM numerous days a week. His service started after Gus noticed an enormous container in the parking lot outside a Toronto Loblaws, inside were containers of countless baked goods. Gus asked the Manager where the food would be taken and learned it would go to feed animals.

He later went back and a new manager told him he could pick up unsold goods once a week to distribute as he saw
fit. Not knowing where to bring them, Gus called the city food bank and learned about numerous agencies and shelters which would gratefully accept whatever he could provide. After Loblaws offered him more and more days’ worth of food, Gus began delivering all he could fit into his vehicle daily, to YSM and other organizations.

Such deliveries effectively became Gus’ full-time volunteer focus, and he met service users at many of the sites he visited, forging meaningful long-term friendships. For years he enjoyed weekly coffee dates with friends from Good Neighbours’ Club, including a few who, when Gus’ sister became ill, visited her weekly in hospital for many months.

Today Gus remains a regular visitor at Evergreen where he enjoys visiting the kitchen team headed by Marion, who warmly greet him and insist he enjoy a freshly cooked meal. He finds everyone to be kind and nice and, even after twenty years, feels blessed to continue making deliveries and to meet many of those benefitting from his efforts.

With his giving spirit and food donations, Gus truly fuels our YSM community.

GIVE 6IX logo

For our 125th anniversary we’re inviting the city of Toronto to GIVE 6IX to “the Six” in any way, from anywhere, to help change the lives of neighbours struggling with poverty . . .

What’s your 6IX? Learn more and get inspired at