Donny the Donation Bag has been a beloved member of the Food Banks Mississauga team ever since the summer of 2017, when the organization was still The Mississauga Food Bank. Recently, Donny announced it was time for him to retire. We are sad to see Donny go, but are excited for all the plans Donny has for his retirement! We sat down for a conversation with him recently to reflect on his time with Food Banks Mississauga.
Donny! Thanks for taking the time to reflect on your time here with us!
Of course! There is a lot to reflect on!
How long have you been with Food Banks Mississauga, and what was your role?
I was brought on to the team in the summer of 2017 to help connect the community to the work we do at Food Banks Mississauga. In the beginning, my role was primarily going to fundraisers, meeting our community members and thanking them for supporting our neighbours in need. It wasn’t too long before my role expanded to include more social media – specifically, TikTok! I got roped into doing a lot of video content… and had to really work on my dance moves to keep up with our summer Marketing Assistants. It was really fun though, and I was even challenged to a dance-off with Sparky at Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services. I’m not sure who won that though… but you can see for yourself!
What is your fondest memory during your time here?
Honestly, I had so much fun every time I got to attend a community or school event and cheer on those who fundraised and donated food or when I could engage with the community at a city-wide event. It’s a privilege to get to meet so many generous people and to thank them for their support. When I think back on some of these times, it makes me smile to think of participating in the Light Up the Square events, Santa Claus parades or meeting fans at a Mississauga Steelheads game in 2019.
What was the most rewarding part of your job?
People often say that I’m always smiling – and it’s true, I’m a very happy guy. But what brings the biggest smile to my face is when I see a group of students who fundraise to support neighbours in need. Although they’re young, these kids know how important nutritious food is, and they want to ensure their neighbours facing food insecurity have enough to eat. They know what it means to truly care for your community, and that’s really encouraging to see in the next generation.
What is something you learned during your time at Food Banks Mississauga?
First of all, on a practical note, I learned how important it is when people donate funds. I know I’m a donation bag, and that often makes people think of donating bags of shelf-stable food. When I first joined the team, we really promoted food-raising, but that shifted during my time to reflect the reality – when people donate funds – those dollars can stretch so much further and also allow us to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products that can’t be donated to a food drive.
Secondly, I learned that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to people facing food insecurity. Folks of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances can find themselves in a place where they need the support that we and our network of over 60 agency members provide. It’s a humbling reminder to be gracious to our neighbours and to give generously.
How does it feel to be leaving Food Banks Mississauga after six and a half years?
It’s bittersweet, of course. I love our community and am thankful for the years I was able to spend here, dancing and posing for all YOUR pictures. But I am leaving this role in the very capable hands of Bowlina, who is incredible. She brings so much youthful energy to the team, and I’m excited for her as she gets to know all the wonderful volunteers and donors. I also look forward to seeing her on TikTok – and I hope she can challenge Sparky to another dance-off soon!
What are your plans for retirement?
I have plans to spend lots of time in the sunshine, working on my tan! You’ll find me relaxing on a beach somewhere down south for the foreseeable future!
Exciting! Will we be seeing you around after that?
Of course! I can’t stay away. I’ll definitely pop back in every once and a while for a visit!
Anything else you’d like to say to your loyal supporters reading this?
I just want to thank you all for the support you have shown Food Banks Mississauga over the years and continue to show. You truly care about your neighbours, and that brings a lot of joy to my heart to know that. Thank you, Mississauga.