By Kaitlynn Almeida
On October 10, 2019, after a couple of months of planning, the Rotaract Club of Toronto's International Service Committee hosted a Shine for ShelterBox dinner in collaboration with Rotarian Saleem Kassum from the Rotary Club of Toronto. The evening was filled with food, fun, and fellowship in support of a great charitable cause: emergency disaster relief through ShelterBox Canada.
"ShelterBox works to provide tangible shelter to disaster victims while rebuilding their communities. Its business model uses mainly volunteers as Special Response Team members, and ShelterBox strictly ensures accountability," said Rotarian Saleem Kassum, ShelterBox Canada ambassador.
On the day of the event, Saleem welcomed more than 20 Rotaractors, Rotarians and guests into his home, resulting in an excellent opportunity for making new connections. Attendees entered into a room lit up with LuminAIDs: collapsible solar-powered lights that are provided to individuals and families as part of disaster relief support. While they mingled, the wine was poured, and raffle tickets were sold. It was then announced that attendees were going to try their hand at team trivia. The four teams got into the spirit, giving it their best while having some witty banter with opposing teams.
In between trivia rounds, dinner was served: a delicious trio of salad, pasta, and chicken. There were many compliments given to the evening's chef, Saleem, on how flavourful the food was. Shortly after that, Saleem's renowned cheesecake was served, and held to its reputation! The host admitted: "in the week running up to the event, I started to get a little nervous, especially about there being enough food. Finally, I made sure there was enough wine around just in case things went south, but with tactical help in the kitchen and the wine, things seemed to work out, and I had fun."
Before delving into the cheesecake, the final round of trivia took place, culminating in a classic lightning-style round. It was a tough call to determine the winning team. Ultimately, the trivia and raffle winners were announced and received their LuminAID to take home, so they could remember the evening, light up their home and inspire their own Shine for ShelterBox dinner in the future.
Altogether, we reached our goal of raising $1200 through the event, providing a full ShelterBox filled with a family tent and all the supplies people need to recover, such as blankets, solar lights, kitchen sets and more. Many thanks to Saleem for teaming up with us since May and helping turn this idea into a reality. His generosity and passion are a large part of what helped this event come to fruition. Fortunately, the gratitude is a two-way street, with Saleem noting that "it is a joy and privilege to work with the very dynamic Rotaract Club of Toronto. The members are committed Rotary leaders, and I enjoy their fellowship." Big "thank-yous" as well to our club's International Service Committee.
More about ShelterBox:
ShelterBox works directly with communities to provide customized aid to help families recover. Our aid is more than a canvas roof overhead or a warm blanket to wrap a child in. It's a good night's sleep after what has felt like a nightmare. It's the only home a family may have for weeks, months, or even longer. But most of all, it’s a safe place to call home and the ability to restart.
Kaitlynn Almeida is an active member of the Rotaract Club of Toronto’s international service committee, one of the organizers of this Shine for ShelterBox Dinner, and the club’s immediate past co-president.