Woman seen from behind with two pink braids bringing watermelon to her mouth

Photograph By ramachstudio / AdobeStock 

Summer events that give back across the GTA

Here are seven dates for your summer calendar that let you do good while you’re out there “doing”

Toronto truly comes alive in the summer months with exciting events happening simultaneously across the city every week. But how to choose which to try? Here’s one way: combine doing something you love with an event that gives back to the community. No matter where your interests lie, there’s something out there just for you that will also benefit someone else.

Women wearing tank top holding yoga pose in park

If you’re craving a little Zen, try Park Yoga

Skip the sweaty studio and take your yoga practice outdoors with The Flying Yogi studio, which teaches classes for all levels in parks across the city until September 30th.

Who it helps: Classes are donation based and a portion of the proceeds go to Nellie’s, a Toronto shelter for abused women and children.
When and where: Saturdays at 10 a.m., Riverdale Park East; Sundays at 10:30 a.m. High Park and Jonathan Ashbridges Park; Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Trinity Bellwoods Park, 7 p.m., Riverdale Park East; Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Sorauren Park; Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Riverdale Park East; Thursdays 6:30 p.m., Lawrence Park, 7 p.m., Riverdale Park East.
Hot tip: Mats aren’t provided so you’ll need to bring your own. (Photograph By Goodluz / Adobe Stock)

If you want to get a head start on holiday gifts, try The Great Toronto Yarn Hop

Knit or crochet your way across Toronto—on the TTC, of course—while popping into local yarn shops on the way for some sweet swag bags. Then, join one of 14 teams of avid knitters and reconvene at a downtown pub for prizes at the end of the day.
Who it helps: Sistering: A Woman’s Place, a centre for homeless, at-risk, and socially isolated women in Toronto.
When and where: Saturday, July 14 at 10 a.m. at various starting routes across Toronto.
Cost:$20
Hot tip: TTC fare isn’t included. You’ll be hopping in and out of the subway a lot, so best to top up your Presto or buy a day pass, which you can share with another knitter.

If you’re looking for a night on the town, try Junction Night Market

For one night only, get your fill of locally crafted beer and food vendors from the Junction’s farmers’ market, local restaurants, breweries and cideries.

Who it helps: Proceeds are donated to food security programs in the Junction and across the GTA, such as The Four Villages Community Health Centre.
When and where: Saturday, July 7 from 7 to 11 p.m., Junction Train Platform (Pacific Avenue, north of Dundas Street).
Hot tip: Cost of entry is free, but all beer and food tokens are $5 each.

Plate of ribs and salad held by out of focus person

If you’re feeling peckish, try Markham Rotary Ribfest

Come for the ribs, stay for the midway games (including axe-throwing!).From bubble tea to bubble waffles, this weekend-long ribfest in downtown Markham offers so much more than your average BBQ. (Admission is $2.)

Who it helps: Markham Rotary Club Foundation and Markham Stouffville Hospital’s Dr. Bear Program for Children, which gives children ages four to 12 a teddy bear and a hands-on tour of operating rooms to help them feel more comfortable before undergoing surgery.
When and where: Kicks off Friday, July 6 at 5 p.m. until Sunday, July 8, The Origin (179 Enterprise Blvd).
Hot tip: You’re not allowed to bring in outside food, but with everything from tofu skewers and tornado fries available, why would you need to? (Photograph By Arina Habich / Adobe Stock)

Woman seen from behind with two pink braids holding slice of watermelon

If it’s time to get you hair done, try Braids for Aids

Is there a better feeling than having someone carefully braid your locks? Spend a day getting your hair done while engaging in conversations focusing on issues affecting young Black communities. Guest panelists will discuss issues such as violence against women and sexual health.

Who it helps: Proceeds support BrAIDS for AIDS, a campaign to reduce stigma and spread of HIV/AIDS in African, Caribbean and Black communities.
When and where: Saturday, July 28 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., 789 Yonge Street.
Hot tip: Professional hairdressers will also be offering weaves, twists, crochet braids, cornrows and faux locks. If your hair doesn’t need a new look, nail and eyelash appointments are also available. Hair bookings start at $25. (Photograph By ramachstudio / AdobeStock)

If you haven’t been bowling in a while, try Lawn Summer Nights

Rally up your friends, come up with a team name, coordinate outfits and enjoy dinner and a game of lawn bowling. For four Thursdays in July, two Toronto bowling clubs are providing a night of dinner, drinks and fundraising prizes. Not into bowling? Watch from the sidelines and sip on cocktails with a $20 ticket.

Who it helps: All proceeds go to Cystic Fibrosis Canada. (Register a four-player team for $500, or a five-player team for $600.)
When and where: July 5, 12, 18, and 26 at 6:30 p.m., West Toronto Lawn Bowling Club or Leaside Lawn Bowling.
Hot tip: No heels allowed on the greens, not even wedges. Wear flat shoes or bowl barefoot.

Swimmer with blue cap and goggles in open water

If you love the water, try Toronto Island Lake Swim

What could be better on a hot summer’s day than a refreshing dip in Lake Ontario? As an added bonus, you’ll be bringing awareness to the importance of keeping our freshwater lakes clean. Show off your strokes in one of three races: 750-m, 1.5-km or 3.8-km.

Who it helps: The event is partnered with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, an environmental justice advocacy group that protects the Great Lakes.
When and where: Sunday, August 26th, starting at 10 a.m. (depending on which swim you choose) at Centre Island Pier on the Toronto Islands.
Hot tip: Cost is $60 per swimmer and feel free to bring flippers, buoys, or flutterboards (although if you do, you’ll be disqualified from winning the Fastest Swimmer trophy!). (Photograph By Microgen / Adobe Stock)

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