Austin McInnis '23 has been honoured with the Rummenie Student Volunteer Award from the Aurora Food Pantry for his years of community service.
Austin has accumulated nearly 800 community service hours volunteering at the food pantry since he first started at SAC in Grade 5.
"My dad and I volunteer for the Aurora Food Pantry (AFP) by driving around to local grocery stores and fire halls to collect the food in the donation boxes. Every Saturday, we load my dad's truck then bring it back to the food pantry where the food is sorted and stored," Austin explains. "On Wednesdays, we go to the local Cobs Bakery to pick up and bag all the leftover bread and sweets they did not sell that day."
The Rummenie Student Volunteer Award was created to honour the late Jim and Lorna Rummenie, who demonstrated a lifelong commitment to helping others. The Aurora Food Pantry was one of the organizations that benefited from their dedication. Both Jim and Lorna enjoyed working with young people.
Reflecting that spirit, each year, the Board of the Aurora Food Pantry identifies a student volunteer who has demonstrated exemplary commitment over the course of a school year.
Austin says he choose to volunteer at the AFP because an old friend had to use the pantry's services. "In a country as fortunate as Canada, nobody should have to go hungry. I have been volunteering with the AFP since I was in Grade 4, and I plan to continue."
Community service is a family affair for the McInnis clan. "Both my parents are very involved with the AFP as my dad is the vice-chair of the board of directors, and my mom used to be on the board and now is a regular volunteer on Thursday evenings."
The Grade 10 student also helps out with other events, such as the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) food drive where he and his dad unload all the collected food in addition to counting the money donated. He also assists at the food pantry booth at events such as the multicultural fair and Aurora Street Festival.
"The thing that I enjoy most about my community service is knowing that I am helping people who really need it," Austin says. "I have always wanted to make the world a better place, and I will continue doing my part to make that happen."
Austin received the award at the pantry's 2019/2020 annual general meeting held virtually on Dec. 14. The Aurora Food Pantry
is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. It was launched in 1990 and has been supporting the needs of Aurora and Oak Ridges residents since then.