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

Volunteer Centres – An Untapped Resource OPEN LETTER

On Labour Day, September 7th, Volunteer Markham joined Volunteer Centres across Canada in publishing a co-authored open letter to advocate for the essential and critical role of volunteers and the systems that enable them.

It is a critical time now to to be aware of the services and supports your Volunteer Centre provides. Every single Canadian benefits from the contribution of volunteers. Together we will recover.

Click here to read the letter.

Statement on Diversity, Inclusion and Respect

We understand that prejudice exists in Markham and in Canada. As an organization, Volunteer Markham focuses on inclusive action that will help educate and deepen awareness of unconscious bias, racism and discrimination of any kind.

At Volunteer Markham, we pledge to continue to listen, learn, and take action to promote equality and create a more inclusive future for all. Now is the time for change and action. Change does not come easily. However, together we can make a difference.

#Diversity #Respect #StopRacism

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!


In today’s unprecedented environment, with the world in a State of Emergency, there are always communities and individuals ready and willing to help. In a pandemic, this becomes even more challenging when we cannot physically get together. Communities, organizations and individuals are all responsible to be diligent at Social Distancing. This is taking ACTION! This is making a difference!

There are new and emerging ways that individuals can contribute and an increasing need for support now, and in the near future, to ensure the health of our communities, charities and non-profits. As many organizations work through how to protect their communities safely and responsibly, we all need to remain patient and understanding. There are numerous resources available at Volunteer Canada https://volunteer.ca for both organizations and volunteers.

Volunteer Markham is here to help connect you to needed support! Please review the following list of ways to make a difference locally!

SCOUTS CANADA is still scouting and currently recruiting for Group Leaders! Please review their website at https://www.scouts.ca/volunteer/overview.html and/or email daisy.gao@scouts.ca for more information on how to volunteer.

Markham Cares Food Drive: Donate food items at any Markham Fire Station or at Longos, No Frills, Fresh Co, Whole Food Market. For more information click on https://www.markham.ca/wps/portal/home

Canada Sews – York Region:  This wonderful community initiative in Markham has grown to support all of York Region.  On April 21, 2020 8,000 ladies and gents across Canada have sewn more than 20,000 face masks, headbands, scrub caps and scrub bags for frontline workers, shelters, seniors and First Nations communities.  Volunteers are sewing, delivering, donating materials and helping to administer to help our community stay as safe as possible.  If you would like to help or are a frontline worker in need of any of these items please email canadasews.markham@gmail.com .  For more information click on https://www.facebook.com/groups/canadasewsmarkham/

CHATS: We know seniors are experiencing new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but CHATS is here to help. CHATS have adapted some of their existing supports and have come up with some new ways to help. Urgently needs Personal Protective Equipment. Call 905-713-6596 to learn more about Telephone Socials, Telephone Security Checks and Visits, Meals on Wheels, Supports for Caregivers and how you can help. Please consider donating to CHATS. CHATS is in urgent need for Personal Protection Equipment for their front line workers. http://www.chats.on.ca

KIDS Help Phone needs you!  You can practice social distancing and still ensure that you are helping kids when kids need someone.  For three decades, young people have been reaching out to Kids Help Phone for the support they need.  In 2018, in partnership with Crisis Text Line, Kids Help Phone launched the first ever 24/7, free, nationwide texting service. Through Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, young people can chat confidentially with trained, volunteer Crisis Responders.  Learn how to volunteer and/or support Kids Help Phone now at https://kidshelpphone.ca/get-involved/participate/call-volunteers-crisis-text-line/ 

Markham Stouffville Hospital: Urgently needs Personal Protective Equipment . Click https://www.helpmsh.ca/ for more information (including how to create or support an online fundraiser).

Mon Sheong Foundation: Urgently needs Personal Protective Equipment (Level 2 Masks, masks with face shields, washable gowns, disposable gowns). Visit http://www.monsheong.org for various ways of giving or email samanthaho@monsheong.org.

Nanny Angel Network: Volunteers Needed. Volunteer support has been moved to a virtual opportunity to help mothers with cancer and their children. Email:
volunteer@nannyangelnetwork.com to learn more or to help.

Participation House “Making life better for people with disabilities”: Volunteers are needed to do grocery shopping for essential items. They have 4 locations in Markham for drop off  https://participationhouse.net/   Please email prerna.mehta@participationhouse.net

Yellow Brick House: Emergency Shelter is remaining operational as an essential service. Please visit https://www.yellowbrickhouse.org/ and review their “Wish List”. All donated items must be new.

Please remember, there are many ways to give!

You can donate financially to a charity of choice at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/

You can donate blood. Learn more at http://www.blood.ca

You can write letters or draw pictures for seniors or health care workers! Once completed you could snap a picture and email it to mirja.raita@volunteermarkham.ca

Currently, there is an emerging request for sewers to create “at home” face masks (not to be substituted for the PPE requirements for front line workers) for individual use. For more information on how to make these masks or where you can donate them please contact mirja.raita@volunteermarkham.ca

You NEED to stay safe, stay informed and stay connected!

Together we will get through this!

“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!”

Volunteer Markham -COVID-19 Prevention Measures

Due to recent outbreak of COVID-19, Volunteer Markham is encouraging all our volunteers, staff and community to take the necessary steps to stay safe during these unpredictable times. Similar to the many organizations in Markham, we are weighing our options on a day-to-day basis. At this time, Volunteer Markham is here to help you virtually, so please do continue to connect with us!

To ensure the health and safety of our volunteers and our community, we ask that you please take the following steps based on Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines;

  1. Practise social distancing and stay home! If you need to go out please limit the time and frequency and ensure to stay safe. Social distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. If you are required to leave home please maintain a 2 metre (6 feet) distance from others.

2. Ensure hand washing stations are available and accessible. Encourage staff, volunteers and visitors to thoroughly and regularly wash their hands and keep hands away from their face. Wipe, clean, disinfect as many surfaces that you come into contact with as possible (including door knobs, gas pumps, shopping carts, handles, etc.)

3. We ask our volunteer organizations that you remind volunteers  of the most effective ways to stay healthy. talking to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible. We all have an individual responsibility to keep ourselves and our families safe.

4. We ask that you post signage and advise volunteers who are ill to stay home and/or postpone their volunteer tasks/shifts. Encourage and support individuals in making their own personal choices and stay connected.

5. Please post signage and advise volunteers who have travelled to affected areas or those that have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days to postpone their activities and self-quarantine and/or attend an “Assessment Centre”.

Thank-you to our volunteers and our community for your cooperation and patience during these times. Should you have any further questions, please contact us. Stay informed and stay connected. We will make it through together.