April 1, 2021
Seneca student’s weekly food drive goes a long way
Thousands of pounds of dry goods donated to local food bank
If you think one person can’t make a difference, meet Emma Dagher.
Ms. Dagher is a second-year Police Foundations student who works as a personal trainer. Every Friday, she lifts weights of a different kind by picking up food donations across York Region.
Since February, she has collected about 2,500 pounds of dry goods for The Food Bank of York Region.
It all began when she saw a report stating there had been a 50 per cent increase in first-time food bank users in York Region during the pandemic.
“I don’t know what it is about that stat that struck a nerve,” Ms. Dagher said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
So far, six businesses in nine locations in Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill and Markham have been working with Ms. Dagher to host donation bins for the food bank.
“It takes me about 5.5 hours of driving on Fridays to pick up and drop off,” she said. “But I have more time in my days because of COVID. I’m able to work a lot more hours and do the food drive once a week.”
Alex Bilotta is Founder and CEO of The Food Bank of York Region. He says since the pandemic started, he’s had more than 500 volunteers sign up.
“We can’t do what we do without volunteers like Emma,” Mr. Bilotta said. “She’s very sincere and capable — a giving person. She wants to help out and has a heart for her community.”
York Region, Ms. Dagher says, is a place where you see people from every walk of life, many of whom never thought they’d be relying on a food bank.
“The pandemic has definitely put a strain on everyone,” she said. “But I’m not at a point where I’d need to turn to the food bank. I’m comfortable. And that’s just it. All of these first-time food bank users felt like me before, and then things changed overnight.”
Ms. Dagher says she will continue the food drive for as long as possible.
“I’ve always liked the idea of serving people,” said Ms. Dagher, who wants to become a police officer after she graduates this spring. “That’s when I feel most like myself. I’m living to my highest purpose when I can help others.”