Local Food Bank Needs You Now More Than Ever Take Time To Give Back: Volunteer Markham

(MARKHAM, RICHMOND HILL, VAUGHAN, WHITCHURCH-STOUFFVILLE, ONTARIO)​ – There is no doubt that Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on the lives of so many people. With Thanksgiving coming up on October 12, 2020, Volunteer Markham wants you to check in with your local Food Bank to either volunteer for a few hours, donate food, host a food drive or fundraiser or you can choose to donate cash online. This year brings even a bigger challenge with the social distancing rules and food security issues, Food Banks in York Region are looking for support.

Now more than ever, the demand for your support has increased. Food items and monetary donations are highly needed to purchase fresh food and support the work that the Food Banks are doing.

We are asking our local residents,community members and councillors to help out in 3 ways;

  1. Donate time and volunteer (Food Bank of York Region is urgently needing volunteers)
  2. Donate funds online
  3. Encourage others to do their part

“Markham and our surrounding areas are filled with kind, generous and supportive people. No one should worry about feeding themselves or their family. This is where we, as residents and as a Volunteer Organization, can all play a part in helping those in need. The number of people that have come to depend on the Food Bank continues to grow and Covid19 related restrictions has even further impacted their support. Please connect with us to learn more about the needs of your local Food Bank. Your donations are absolutely vital. Together we can help.” says Mirja Raita, Executive Director.

About Volunteer Markham

Volunteer Markham helps build a stronger, more thoughtful community through innovative programs that inspire, inform, and connect volunteers with the organizations that need them. Working remotely, we are here and committed to growing volunteering in Markham and the surrounding area by inspiring citizens and connecting the community.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Julie Bannerjea
Chair, Marketing Committee


Mirja Raita
Executive Director
Volunteer Markham

Celebrating Canada Day in Markham

Why are you a proud Canadian?

Happy Canada Day 2020! To celebrate the 153rd anniversary of Confederation, Volunteer Markham wants to know what makes you a proud to be Canadian. Below are some of our favourite stories collected from our community.

Councillor Alan Ho – Ward 6

Click to watch Councillor Ho’s Canada Day message.

“To me, being Canadian means Privilege. I am proud that as Canadians, we use the privileges we have to help others in need and be a voice for those who cannot speak.”

Councillor Jack Heath

Councillor Jack Heath

“I’m proud to be Canadian because of our natural landscape. From the mountains to the forests, from the lakes to the oceans, there’s nothing quite like it.

Here in Markham, we even have Rouge National Urban Park to explore. Happy Canada Day!

I hope you get to enjoy nature in your own backyard!”

Regional Councillor Joe Li

Regional Councillor Joe Li

“I am proud to be Canadian because multiculturalism is respected and celebrated in Canada, which allows me to host the 31st World Hakka Conference in our great City of Markham on October 8 to 10 in 2021 and welcome many Hakka Chinese from the globe to celebrate our Hakka culture with us.”

Mirja Raita, Volunteer Markham

“I have travelled and competed across the globe and have never felt more proud of my nationality than when I am asked where I am from.

Canadians are respected and admired from far and wide. I am proud to be Canadian as my home is a place of warmth and safety. #WeareallTeamCanada!”

Shamim Kassam, Volunteer Markham

“The things I love about Canada is the diversity of the population. I am also very thankful for the education provided to my children and enabling them to have successful careers. “

What About You?

What makes you proud to be Canadian this Canada Day? Share you own thoughts and stories in the comments below!

“Why Volunteer?” Contest Winners Announced

Photo of Volunteer Markham Contest Winners

Community Members Explain Why They Volunteer

Photos of Volunteer Markham "What's Your Story?" Contest Winners
(Left to Right) Claire Lin, Xin Yi Chen, and Shanta Sunderson were three of the winners selected from Volunteer Markham’s “What’s Your Story?” contest.

Last month, Canadians across the country celebrated National Volunteer Week (April 19 – 25, 2020). As part of the festivities, Volunteer Markham wanted to hear stories about local volunteers. Community members from across Markham submitted their entries for “Why Volunteer?” – a contest campaign which helped us understand why many people are volunteering in Markham. 

We asked local residents and community members to submit a short blurb sharing their reason for why they volunteer. After compiling our entries, we are pleased to announce the four winners of the “Why Volunteer?” campaign

Volunteer Markham would like to congratulate our winners:

  • Claire Lin 
  • Shanta Sunderson 
  • Sruti Prabakaran 
  • Xin Yi Chen 

After careful consideration, Volunteer Markham board members who reviewed all the submissions were able to determine the winners. While it was difficult to choose the top four, Volunteer Markham sincerely thanks everyone who submitted a contest entry. The stories from our local volunteers truly remind us all why volunteering is so vital for our community. 

“I volunteer to inspire others to become creative and bright leaders who will take on opportunities to lead future generations and carry on traditions in the community,” says contest winner Claire Lin. “I believe everyone has the capacity to learn and develop a positive mindset along their journey as a volunteer for the City of Markham.” 

Winners have since received instructions on how to claim their prize: a gift card worth $50 OR a $50 donation to a charity of their choice. Stay tuned to the Volunteer Markham website and social media as we look forward to highlighting our four winners in the near future. 

“Thank you to all volunteers who give with their hearts! Volunteerism, at all levels and with its

many faces, is the foundation of a caring community,” says Mirja Raita, Executive Director of Volunteer Markham. “Volunteer Markham is here and we are working hard at ensuring that residents will be able to continue to give, help and support our community members safely and responsibly. We stand with our community today and always, and we are all making a difference together!”

5 Things to Consider Before Volunteering

A group of friends take a selfie while volunteering.
Finding the volunteer position that’s right for you is essential. Volunteer Markham makes it easy!

Volunteering for the first time can be a difficult. While there are many volunteer opportunities available, choosing the right opportunity is one of the initial challenges faced by every volunteer. Of course, finding a volunteer position can be as simple as browsing available positions the Volunteer Markham website. However, first-time volunteers should consider a few things before embarking on this exciting path. Here are five things every aspiring volunteer should consider before submitting an application.

Why am I volunteering?

Everyone has their own reasons for volunteering. Whether you are a high school student looking to fulfil 40 hours of community service or a retiree looking for meaningful ways to spend time. There’s no wrong reasoning for why someone should volunteer. When you identify why you want to volunteer, then you will be able to set more solid volunteering goals.

Setting goals for volunteering will help you narrow down which volunteer opportunities you want to pursue. Some examples of goals can include: making new friends, learning a language or developing new and desired skills. Target your volunteer search around opportunities which can help move you towards your goals.

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Consider your level of comfort when interacting with others. Do you enjoy working with other people? Or are you more of a solo player? Understanding your own personality is important when deciding which volunteer opportunities to apply for. An extravert might be great at giving information and greeting guests, while an introvert might be more suited for organizing and setting up venues.

At the same time, volunteering is a great way for you to build confidence and step out of your comfort zones. Volunteering often provides a low-stress environment to improve on your personal weaknesses. Take advantage of these opportunities!

How much time do I have?

A person who works a full-time job and a student who is relaxing in front of the TV during summer vacation drastically differ in the amount of free time they have. Consider your current situation. Are you a student? Does your job take up most of your time? Do you have preexisting family commitments? Some volunteer opportunities require scheduled commitments – whether that be once a week or month. For those of you more strapped for time, consider volunteering for specific events which don’t require commitment after the event’s conclusion.

Will this experience help me in the future?

While volunteering may seem all about giving, there are many ways in which you can benefit from contributing your time. While volunteers shouldn’t expect to receive tangible things as rewards, giving back to your community could be a great way to opening more doors in the future.

For example, an aspiring social worker may spend some time volunteering at a food bank. This volunteer will be getting firsthand experience in their desired field. It will also be a great opportunity for the volunteer to network with people in the social work industry. The volunteer may also be able to get a reference letter from the supervisor if their work is exceptional. Make sure to clearly ask if your volunteer supervisor or company is comfortable with providing reference letters for their volunteers. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure! 

What causes are important to you?

Knowing this could drastically make your quest to volunteering a lot simpler. Think about what you are passionate about – chances are there is an organization out there who fits your target. When your work actively helps something you are passionate about, it will make the task seem a lot more rewarding (and enjoyable).  

Take some time to consider these ideas before volunteering. When you are ready, feel free to check out the current volunteer opportunities by clicking here. There are volunteer opportunities out there for everyone.

Happy volunteering!

Pink Cars – Volunteers getting seniors to their vaccination appointments!

With the holiday spirit still lingering in the air, 2020 is shaping up to be a perfect year for volunteering. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to make more friends, help others, or get more involved in the community. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity for you to stick to those resolutions.

With the holiday spirit still lingering in the air, 2020 is shaping up to be a perfect year for volunteering. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to make more friends, help others, or get more involved in the community. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity for you to stick to those resolutions.

Let’s take a look at some common New Year’s resolutions, and how volunteering can help you achieve them.

I want to make more friends

Volunteering is one of the best ways to make new friends and build connections. Working together with other volunteers allows you to bond over a shared experience. As a volunteer, you will be working with other volunteers who may share your similar interests and aspirations. For those who are new to Markham, volunteering is a great way to introduce yourself to the community and meet new people.

I want to be more confident

As a volunteer who is positively impacting the Markham community, it’s natural to feel a sense of accomplishment. Volunteers may gain a sense of pride and boosted self-esteem after a rewarding day of helping others. By making yourself available to volunteer opportunities, you are making it known that you want to be a helpful member of the community. This increased sense of confidence will surely help you for your future goals in 2020 and beyond!

I want to get healthier

Modern society has resulted in more people moving less. Whether you are working at a desk all day or studying at the library, people have generally become less active. While not all volunteer positions are physically demanding, the extra steps or tasks might just be what you need to get moving again. Older adults who find themselves moving less would greatly benefit from volunteering (although volunteering is right for any age).

I want a better job

It seems like we live in a world where even entry-level positions require previous experience. Those looking to break into a new or different career field should consider volunteering in order to get this valuable industry experience and build networks. More generally, volunteering can help bolster your resume with several transferable skills which may include: teamwork, time management, and organization.

I want to have more fun!

2019 was fun, but you want to take 2020 to the next level. Volunteering is a great way to try something new and change up your routine. Finding that perfect volunteer opportunity can be an enlightening moment. There are many benefits for volunteering, but at the end of the day, you wouldn’t be volunteering unless it was something you really wanted to do – something that you thought was fun!

Happy 2020, and happy volunteering!

Where should I go?

If you’re ready to start volunteering, but don’t know where to begin, find your next volunteer opportunity with Volunteer Markham. VM makes getting involved with your community a lot easier. Head over to our current listings and find the perfect placement today.