Two young children playing and throwing leaves in the air

Photograph by Bo Bo / Stocksy

Five ways to celebrate community in October

Honour volunteers, take part in arts-based activities and learn where kids can give back

This month invokes so many comforting annual traditions: raking crunchy leaves, pulling on warmer sweaters, sipping pumpkin-spiced lattes and stocking up on chewy, chocolate-y Halloween candy (and then restocking up because you’ve eaten it all).

Yet, you can’t land on October without thinking about what the month is really all about: taking time out to give thanks for everything we have. And it’s the perfect month to turn that thankful thinking outward by enjoying events that both celebrate and give back to our communities. Here are five to check out this month.

Portraits of Giving Exhibit

When: October
Where: Various locations
Cost: Free
You can’t look at these photos without being inspired to give back. Prepare to be both humbled and excited by the work of Karen Merk, a Richmond Hill-based photographer who was so inspired by the people in her community who donate their time and resources to help others that she created an exhibit to honour them. According to Merk, the show “celebrates York Region Leaders and individuals who demonstrate Social Responsibility.” The portraits demonstrate how each of the 14 honourees works in their community to raise awareness for their charitable cause of choice. The exhibit is touring York Region throughout the year – be sure not to miss it.

Wellness through Caribbean Storytelling

When: October 13, 2-3 p.m. (Chingacousy Library location); October 20, 1-3 p.m. (Malvern Library location)
Where: Chingacousy Library, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton (October 13); Malvern Library, 30 Sewells Road, Scarborough (October 20).
Cost: Free
To build a thriving Caribbean-Canadian community, Caribbean-Canadian Parents United has launched an event in which seniors share rich and colourful stories with other generations of Caribbean-Canadian citizens. But you don’t need be of Caribbean descent to enjoy the inspiring tales on offer, and all ages are welcome. Registration is suggested ahead of time.

Repair Café

When: October 14, 1-5 p.m.
Where: Markham Village Library, 6031 Highway 7, Markham
Cost: Free
Are you a sewer? Handy with tools? Need a rip in your pants fixed? If so, register to attend the Repair Café, which unites people with handy fixing skills with those who have things that need fixing. The most common items in need of repair include small electrical appliances, clothing, furniture, housewares, bicycles and toys—by taking them to the Café, you give new life to treasured objects, avoid taking up space in landfills and, best of all, meet cool people who are great at giving back.

YAAS: Arts with CANVAS

When: October 20, 1-3 p.m.
Where: The 519, 519 Church Street Toronto
Cost: Free
The 519’s Youth Action and Arts Space (YAAS) is home to this drop-in for kids 10 to15 years that runs the first and third Saturday of each month. The program facilitates arts-based activities with queer, trans and gender non-binary youth, as well as kids of queer/trans families. The activities include photography, creative writing, spoken word, drama and more. Guest facilitators help participants explore issues such as gender identity, body image or social justice.

Volunteer Youth Expo 2018

When: October 21, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street
Cost: Free
If you’ve got a high-schooler in the house, they (and you!) may be on the hunt for creative ways to fill their 40 community hours commitment. If so, this annual event, which features some 100+ non-profit organizations hoping to recruit youth volunteers, is a low-pressure, high-impact way to find something that they’re passionate about doing. (Work with kids! Get involved with animals! Protect the environment!) Registration is recommended in advance, but visitors can also just show up the day of.

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