Our Rotary Minute Video #8 - Spreading Holiday Cheer, is a must-watch Christmas story.  A few weeks ago, Rotarians came together with their friends and families over food to ensure this basic essential was there for others when it mattered the most.  We got a message from one of the recipient organizations today, "Thanks for all the food hamper boxes everyone is so appreciative especially as cases are rising and people are worried to be going out." 
Watch, like and share this brief powerful video: https://youtu.be/uSGhK0TG8zI  Subscribe to our YouTube channel and make a ripple effect of awareness.
Thank you to all who supported the Holiday Hamper initiative and to its Champions - Don Bell, Marcy Berg, Steve Smith and Emre Yurga.  A major Thanks to Progress Place, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and Daily Bread Food Bank - all organizations who are empowering communities with better well-being.  Rotary Minute Videos are made with creative care by Executive Producer Krystina McMillan with guidance from our Marketing and Communications Committee (MarCom).
At the Remembrance Tree, I had the opportunity to hear stories of Torontonians.  There were moments of pride - a girl sending a message to her grandfather in Brazil 'hope you are proud of my residency here'; of sadness - a niece who had passed two weeks ago; of hope - for a sister who is battling cancer; of fond memories - a grandma who led by courage; of loneliness - international student who couldn't be with family or friends during Christmas; of remembrance - 'holidays are just not the same without you mom'; of gratitude to healthcare workers and frontline staff; of love - 'love is eternal'; of joy 'wishing a Merry Christmas to all'; and hundreds more - an emotional outpour.  What was common in all those who put ribbons up and those who found out about the tree - was a genuine sense of thanks to Rotary.  Thank you to the Remembrance Tree Champion VP Anny-Sandra Hamel and President Elect Jayson Phelps for bringing the tree alive and for providing us all an opportunity to pause, reflect, remember, honour and smile.  Yes you and your friends can still get your message up on a yellow ribbon high above on the giant tree here: https://Linktr.ee/RotaryToronto 
When I wrote my ribbons in memory of my family, I remembered the time when I was broken and how Rotary had helped heal me through service.  I reflected on my 3 journeys in honour of my dad, mom and brother and how the journeys serendipitously thrive with Rotary.  I thought about all our members, office staff, our Club, Foundation and the 2 Rotaract Clubs.  And despite the pandemic, their tenacity, ingenuity and passion to serve and how they embraced the new transition.  As I write this, I'm overwhelmed with immense pride for all our members, staff and for our great Club and its accomplishments.
Apart from the Remembrance Tree, here is just a sliver of the impact this holiday season alone:
  1. 200 beautiful Christmas gift packages for Seniors created, packed and delivered - with Project Leads Mary Lach and Krystyna Benyak and 18 Rotarians.  Clients of wonderful organizations were thrilled -  Second Mile Club, Dixon Hall, Church of the Resurrection, SPRINT, Saint Matthew's Bracondale House, Little Trinity Church and Sunshine Centre for Seniors.
  2. Holiday Hampers - Over 90 people participated - Close to 500 Hampers - that means close to 500 families are a bit more food secure this holiday season - Watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/uSGhK0TG8zI
  3. Late last week, Super Typhoon Rai/Odette hit the Philippines with insurmountable damage.  After reviewing reports from ShelterBox who began immediate assessments on ground, under joint authority of the Club and our Foundation, Rick and I approved $10,000 towards emergency relief efforts in Philippines via ShelterBox
  4. Charitable Asks - led by Harry Figov and David Libby sanctioned funds for food hampers and infant supplies via Community Connects
  5. Charitable Asks with Indigenous Partnership Working Group (led by Carolyn Purden) provided for food and toys for 100 families with Anishnawbe Health Toronto
  6. Via our Foundation we gifted to The Salvation Army and Fort York Food Bank - both these gifts bringing food and hope to struggling families in time for the Christmas / Holiday season.
  7. Community Outreach - led by Daniel and Suzanne, started work on a pilot project to help grow microgreens in shelters or small single occupancy units
  8. Project Winter Warmth - championed by Daniel collected 60 hats and 35 pairs of socks for the homeless
  9. Virtual Holiday Variety Concert - led by Dauna, had performances that melted our hearts - Glenn, Brigitte, Victoria, Israel and his children, Bert and his daughter, Desmond, Alan, and Liberty Silver - all had us spellbound!
  10. Ask Me Anything - Potential Members Cocktail - led by Bill Morari - saw 2 new members inducted in Dec and I hear 7 are being inducted in January!
The list keeps going with multiple projects approved by International Service and substantial grants recommended by Research & Appeals and approved by the Foundation Board.  5 active Working Groups, Wizardry of the Tech Team, Member Engagement, Creative genius of MarCom and the well-organized Program Committee all continuing to raise the bar!  Potential membership interest in our club is at an all-time high - numbers we haven't seen for decades! 
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! - To each and every Rotarian, Rotaractor and their supporters - I have but one word for you - you know what it is .... You Are Stellar!!! (okay that's 3 words!)
Wishing you and your loved ones a well-rested, safe and Happy Holidays. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 
Yours in service,
Prince Kumar
President, The Rotary Club of Toronto