TTC donates over 800 backpacks to kids, teens as school year starts

8 September 2023 / by Owen Thompson

The TTC and Conference of Minority Transportation Officials have banded together and collected over 800 backpacks to give out to kids for going back to school.

The bags are being distributed to kids and teens across Toronto during the first week of back to school. The TTC has donated them to kids in “neighbourhood improvement areas.” The bag contains various supplies such as pencils, pens, notebooks and calculators. Bags are being directly sent to families or given to four community organizations. One of the four being the Parkdale Peace Project.

The drive has been going on for four years. It started during the first summer on the pandemic and has been going on since then. This years event ran from July through till the end of August.

“We were kind of brainstorming away to just give back to the community. And reflecting on the fact that there are a lot of people in Toronto, who use the TTC, who we feel are part of our community, who may need a bit of support as the school year begins. and also one of the mandates of The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). The conference of minority transportation officials is to support people to move up in the transportation sector,” says Shabnum Durrani, head of corporate communications at TTC.

“It was kind of a bit of brainstorming back four years ago, and the first year, we had about 400 backpacks,” Durrani adds. “Last year, we had 450. This year, we have 833 backpacks. We’re really proud of what we were able to accomplish and proud of all our volunteers.”

While surpassing their yearly target by over 300 backpacks they also went over the amount they received last year. Durrani says during next years drive that she expects to go over this years bench mark.

Donations were collected from various TTC worksites across the city throughout the months. To gather more donations, they also used the annual stuff-the-bus event for bags. Stuff-the-bus has many variations, including toys and food. On Aug.12 and 13, a bus was parked outside of a Walmart and volunteers encouraged members of the public to donate to the cause.

All item including the backpacks were donated. Staff were given a list of items that could be donated. The list included items such as backpacks, stationary and pencil cases for the kids.

COMTO is an American non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for inclusion and diversity in the transportation sector. The TTC has partnered with the Toronto chapter of the organization. CJTM has reached out to the TTC for further comment and have not heard back.

“I am so grateful to all those who opened their hearts and gave generously, so that the start of school would be a little easier for kids and their families this year,” said Mayor Olivia Chow. “Thank you to the incredible TTC employees and members of COMTO who gave their time and energy to this generous initiative that gives so much to children and teens across our city.”

The bags will be donated throughout the first week back to school.

Listen to the story below: