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Corporate Social Responsibility at its finest!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Written by: Tania Gasparotto

There is a gap that exists within our community.  I know this gap has always existed, but given this day and age when the gap is widening, one would think we would want to do more to close it. We know it’s there. I think for a number of us it’s just easier to look the other way, to pretend we don't see it. Sometimes we choose to ignore it, jump over it, walk around it, but the reality around us is still very much unchanged…the gap is still there. This gap that I am referring to is the gap between our communities and our most vulnerable, our children. I would like to think that this gap actually could be filled. The question is…how? Well, it starts with us.

While the holidays tend to remind us of what it means to feel grateful and full of hope for all that we have, they also remind us that there are many vulnerable people in our community, especially our children and youth. During the 2015 holiday season this gap seemed more prevalent for me, as I heard first hand, stories of children, youth and families not having food to eat, proper clothes to wear, gifts to give. I was feeling disheartened. And then, things shifted for me. I had the opportunity to see what life was like behind the scenes to support these families.  I was able to visit the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation Distribution Centre. I also had the opportunity to speak with Peel CAS workers.  It was as if I had been transported to Santa’s magical workshop- where volunteers and staff were enthusiastically making their way through the vast aisles of toys, clothing, and food.  Upon asking, “who was behind these generous donations,” I was pleased to learn that our community is not turning a blind eye to those in need. In fact, one very generous corporate donor Gap Inc. has stepped up and supported Peel Children’s Aid Foundation and their families in a very perceptible way. Their contributions to the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation are overwhelmingly generous, and worth talking about. Here’s what Gap Inc. is doing to build a bridge for our children and youth...

For more than ten years, Gap Inc. has been involved in helping Peel Children’s Aid Foundation support our communities most vulnerable. They are involved in a variety of ways with a focus on youth programming. Each year Gap Inc. makes financial donations to support the Skills for Success Program for Peel Children’s Aid’s youth in care. These programs help youth in care prepare to live independently. These youth are faced with the daunting task of having to take that next step and transition to an independent life with little, if any, support from their family. The Skills for Success Program helps meet the needs of youth preparing to move on independently. The program provides seminars and training to youth in care with a focus on “job readiness” and “interviewing for jobs." Further closing the gap, Gap Inc. is involved in the Back to School Program: teams come together and purchase school supplies for over 100 children and youth as a way of helping them transition into the new school year without the worry of not having the proper supplies that their peers will have.  Gap Inc. continues to participate in the Holiday Wishes program, a program they contribute to yearly. In 2015 Gap Inc. helped to support over 15 families for the Holiday Wishes program. The team shopped to ensure each of these families had a full holiday. They provided these families with clothes, food, gift cards and presents. They gave these families a chance to enjoy the holidays together and without the worries they otherwise face each day. Gap Inc. also offers clothing for families in need throughout Peel Region. They send in-kind product donations to Peel Children’s Aid Foundation throughout the year.

An incredible feeling surrounds me as I witness the amazing changes and contributions people and corporations are implementing to help the most vulnerable in our community, our children. From where I’m standing, corporations have the opportunity to raise the bar and become “socially responsible”. As a community, we need to stand together and become more effective agents for change- identifying the gaps that exist and implementing resources to deliver solutions. I think it is safe to say that Gap Inc.. is taking significant steps to ensure they are doing their part to help our communities most vulnerable, our children and youth. At a time where corporate social responsibility is so important, Gap Inc. is making efforts to build a bridge between both spectrums of our society. As a single mother I try to do the best that I can to help our children and youth in my community, but the reality is my resources are limited. After learning what Gap Inc. is doing to help our children and youth, well - knowing that Gap Inc. openly cares and they are taking the steps to make a difference and build that bridge - not only restores my faith, it leaves me feeling hopeful that this gap will grow smaller and that one day, the gap will be a thin line in the sidewalk and instead of ignoring it and walking around it, we will all walk in step, over this bridge, together.