Toronto, Canada

Dec 8: AYUDH TO at Salvation Army

AYUDH members and mentor with wrapped gifts

Wrapping up smiles and reflecting of richness


Wrapped giftOn Saturday, December 8, three AYUDH Toronto members and one mentor took part in a gift wrapping seva held at Salvation Army at 160 Jarvis Street, in downtown Toronto. Together with volunteers from other organizations, the AYUDH team packed backpacks and wrapped toys. These items had been donated to the Salvation Army, and were to be given to children and families in need this holiday season. Together, the youth wrapped over 75 backpacks and toys over about three hours.

After the seva, the group headed out for a group lunch and discussion. First, the group contemplated this quote from Amma: “In today’s world, people experience two types of poverty: the poverty caused by lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the poverty caused by lack of love and compassion. Of these two, the second type needs to be considered first, because if we have love and compassion in our hearts, then we will wholeheartedly serve those who suffer from lack of food, clothing and shelter.” The youth were then asked in what areas of their lives their are experiencing richness or abundance, and in which areas they are experiencing poverty or lack. The youth agreed that they felt materially and educationally rich, and blessed with good jobs. They also felt fortunate to have warm homes, loving parents, and supportive families. In terms of spiritual wealth, one youth mentioned that they were blessed to know the value of having a Guru like Amma from an early age. Another youth said they were fortunate that their family accepted their decision to have Amma as their Guru, even though the rest of the family did not view Amma in this way.

Wrapped gifts in boxesIn terms of experiencing lack, one youth identified lack of time for spiritual practices due to work commitments as an area of difficulty in their life. Another shared that they were very close to their parents, and found it hard currently living very far from them. They grieved the lack of their physical presence, and felt a general loneliness at times. The third youth stated that, spiritually, they were having unmet expectations and were feeling frustrated. Sometimes, they had mental arguments with their Guru, to figure out where the problem really lay. Their challenge was to let go of expectations.

Finally, the group meditated on this Amma quote: "Serving the world with love and cooperation, you will find your own True Self. As you help those in need, selfishness will fall away, and without even noticing you will find your own fulfillment." The youth were then asked to identify concrete ways they could share their abundance or fulfill their lack. Are there ways they can meet their needs while fulfilling the needs of others too? One youth said they could approach charities like Salvation Army, and use their writing skills to help clients write resumes and build portfolios, so they can get back on their feet. Another agreed with this goal, mentioning how their mother taught that we should use the present moment wisely, and leave the world a better place for those coming after us.

The AYUDH mentor closed the discussion by sharing the story of Julie Springer, Volunteer Coordinator at Salvation Army, and former Volunteer Coordinator at St. Felix Centre. When Springer first came to St. Felix Centre, she was homeless and struggling. With their help, she not only became self-sufficient again, but also found a fulfilling career helping hundreds of people who are in need. In Springer's own words: "I enjoy waking up and coming to work every day. I get to speak with a diverse amount of people from all over the world and all different walks of life. So as I say to all prospective volunteers, you never know what you will get out of volunteering [...]. I received my purpose in life..."

May we all find fulfillment in helping others this holiday season

Youth packing backpacks for those in need