Resident Margaret Santos and family member Alan Athanasopoulos join forces
By Kristian Partington
The first year his mother lived at The Village of Erin Meadows in Mississauga, Alan Athanasopoulos remembers contributing modestly to the annual November/December food drive, spearheaded by a young resident named Margaret Santos.
Alan is one of those family members who takes an active role in village life – he’s there almost every day to see his mother and he likes to help out when he can so the following year when Margaret began her push to raise money and collect food to help families in need, Alan offered to help. He helped promote the efforts and raise a little more awareness and that year he believes Margaret was able to collect nearly 600 pounds of food, more than double the previous year. Inspired by the drive and dedication he sees in Margaret, who relies on assistive devices for mobility and communication, he’s been part of the food drive ever since and this recent campaign, Margaret is happy to report, was the most successful yet.
With the help of Alan and the pupils and teachers at Meadowvale Village Public School where he’s a teacher, the village managed to collect 1,515 pounds of food for the Mississauga Food Bank, along with more than $400.
“I wanted to thank you all for thinking of us and for being such a strong supporter of Erin Meadows and our food drive this year,” Margaret wrote to Alan and the pupils and faculty at Meadowvale, notably Mrs. Vickery and Mrs. Gomes, who were eager to help when Erin Meadows teamed up with the school.
“I want you all to know that you have made a huge difference in the lives of some of the residents living right here in Mississauga.”
And this is why Margaret organizes this drive every year: she enjoys helping others and watching a community come together around Erin Meadows to help neighbours. It is a gift in and of itself.
“She’s a great person,” Alan says of his friend, Margaret. “We’re around the same age and we just became good friends.” They’ll spend time together when he’s visiting the village, sometimes at BINGO or in Saturday morning horticultural classes. “I think it’s amazing what she does, from her poetry to her humanitarian work – it’s fantastic and that’s why I really wanted to help her out.”
Alan points out that his mother has always been a humanitarian as well, always eager to donate and volunteer time to help others in the community through organizations like the United Way or the Children’s Aid Society.
“It’s just what we were taught, me and my brothers,” says Alan, “so we try to help (Margaret) out however we can. What she does there (at Erin Meadows) is remarkable. She’s a staple of that community, a leader there, and . . . with the Food Drive, a simple little push put that thing over the edge and it’s the least we could do.”
“It was a great experience,” he adds, “and hopefully next year we can take the Food Drive to the next level.”