Youth helping youth in annual Covenant House Christmas drive

For the sixth year in a row, the Unionville Youth Council (UYC) has collected dozens of boxes filled with goods for their “Covenant House Christmas Drive.” As per their annual tradition, council members collect donations of stationery, clothing, backpacks and toiletries, to name a few, and deliver them to Covenant House, a homeless shelter for youth.

“Every year we ask council members and members of the community to donate items to Covenant House, and every year we are overwhelmed with the responses we’ve gotten,” said Jovia Wong, UYC co-chair.

Covenant House is the largest shelter in the country for youth who are homeless or at-risk. Since 1982, they have provided youth with mental support along with education and employment tools during their time with the agency. Since the shelter opened, Covenant House has supported more than 90,000 youth. Currently, they serve about 250 individuals every day.

“The council realizes how important youth homelessness is, how impactful this social issue can be and how many individuals this can affect,” said Wong. “Some of the youth have experienced abuse, neglect and hardship and we hope that taking part in the Christmas drive will bring not only happiness, but help youth feel more at home.”

The UYC is a volunteer group of students ranging from Grades 7 through 12. At their monthly meetings, the council focuses on participating in local community initiatives as well as organizing events such as their annual leadership conference, “Markham Idol” and “Spring Carnival.” In the past, they’ve supported the Humber River Hospital psychiatric ward and “30-Hour Famine.”

“Our focus is to engage youth from all across Markham by promoting volunteering and creating a safe and healthy environment,” said Wong. “We encourage youth to become leaders themselves, to make a difference in the community, and to share knowledge on social issues like youth homelessness and mental wellness.”

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