toronto cares

Kindness of a stranger moves single Toronto mom to start her own COVID-19 support group

Single mom, Sarah Robinson, created Toronto Cares to help connect low-income families and marginalized communities to financial and food support after being on the receiving end of two strangers kindness. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Robinson lost a primary source of income. She had been running meet up events in her community and the additional income helped supplement her disability benefits, allowing her to buy groceries for her and her daughter. 

In desperation, she posted in one of the CareMongering groups that she was in need of some money and 30 minutes later two women had sent it to her.

"I was so moved and overwhelmed and shocked two strangers would send me money. I wanted to pay it forward," she said.

While Robinson didn't have the financial  means to pay it forward, she says that she was really good at connecting people, so she made a post in CareMongering TO about helping people who didn't qualify for EI or CERB. 

While she knew there would be a response, she didn't anticipate the volume. 

"The next morning I woke up with a ton of responses," Robinson said. "In the first two days I helped just over 100 people. Last week, about 200 people. Now people are sharing with their friends and it's just growing." 

The overwhelming response inspired her to start her own private group, Toronto Cares, which now has 173 members and a team of 10 volunteers working  on everything from fundraising to tech. 

They've also teamed up with a variety of groups, like Bike Brigades, Good Neighbour, and Davenport Helps, to help make sure people are getting what they need – even if the request is unusual. 

"We don't want to turn away anybody," she said. 

For example, Robinson told blogTO of one woman who fled an abusive relationship and was living in a hotel. She helped get her set up with a bar fridge and microwave so she could cook some food for her family.

Another woman Robinson was able to crowd source help for was a lady who was due to deliver her baby within the week and didn't have any baby supplies. Through the Toronto Cares network they managed to deliver baby clothes and other supplies within the day. 

That being said, Toronto Cares is focused on three main services right now:

  1. Delivering groceries and essential items.
  2. Emergency funding for people who need food that night.
  3. Direct donations for help paying bills like hydro or Internet. 

Robinson says they're working on expanding to offer other things, such as hot meals and pet food. She also talked excitedly about the possibility of connecting some of the recipients who want to give back with lonely seniors. 

"I feel like I'm doing what I need to do," she said. 

Toronto Cares is currently accepting all donations via e-transfer to helping.toronto.2020@gmail.com but will be setting up a GoFundMe page in the near future. 

Lead photo by

Boris T


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