Valentine's care packages bring a little love to women's shelters
Sikh community delivers cupcakes, chocolates and cards made by children, just to ‘say someone cares.’
CHRIS SO / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Sarpreet Kaur, a volunteer with the World Sikh Organization, delivers boxes of cupcakes, chocolates and Valentine's Day cards made by children from the Sikh community, to a women's shelter.
There were no bouquets of red roses, but on Valentine’s Day dozens of pink boxes wrapped with white ribbons showed up at Nellie’s Women’s Shelter instead.
Each care package included chocolates and cupcakes, topped with handmade cards authored by elementary school children.
“You are great,” reads one Valentine. “You are beautiful,” said another.
All were addressed to the same recipients: Women and children who call the downtown shelter home, many of whom are victims of violence, poverty and homelessness.
Members of Toronto’s Sikh community were behind the surprise doorstep delivery as they dropped off the custom-made Valentines to four women’s shelters across the GTA.
The annual initiative is based on the Sikh tradition of langar — the communal kitchen — where a meal is served for free. In Sikhism, this sharing of a meal not only builds community but also symbolizes equality, a core Sikh principle. The dining tradition is a universal invitation that anyone can accept, regardless of race, sex or creed.
Sarpreet Pannu was one of 25 volunteers who have spent the past several weeks coordinating the joint effort to deliver 160 treat-filled parcels to four shelters in the GTA. She worked out the logistical details with shelters, such as drop-off times, as well as finding donors to supply the pastries and chocolates.
For Pannu, assembling and hand-delivering the baked goods is a form of “spreading love.”
“Something as small as a cupcake could make someone’s day,” the Brampton resident said. “We met with some of the women in one of the shelters and saw how it put a smile on their face.”
Nellie’s director Margarita Mendez said charitable acts such as these are always welcome, no matter how big or small.
“It’s nice to have little gifts say someone cares,” she said.
Now in its third year, the campaign runs in conjunction with this weekend’s anniversary of the “One Billion Rising” movement. The global crusade against gender violence and inequality was first launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012.
“We wanted to bring awareness to the fact one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, vice-president of Ontario for the World Sikh Organization of Canada. Punjabi Community Health Services also assisted with the Toronto effort.
The project is hardly local, however. Sikh organizations in five other Canadian cities, from Montreal to Vancouver, are also taking part. More than 1,600 packages are expected to be delivered by Sikh groups nationwide.