Anyone who’s been to a Toronto Raptors game knows about the team’s pizza deal that grants fans a free slice from Pizza Pizza if the Raptors score over 100 points.
But how many of the roughly 20,000 fans actually pick up their ‘za the following day?
Troubled by the growing issue of youth homelessness in Toronto, Raptors fan Mathew Mikhaiel was determined to shed some light on the issue and hopefully start a chain reaction of awareness by educating other fans.
Mikhaiel began collecting the unused pizza vouchers after Raptors home games and would donate them to local youth shelters the following day.
His initiative is called 100 for the Homies, and despite starting off small, it has begun to build steam and his efforts are starting to get noticed. In the past month, his group has already donated over 1,800 pizza vouchers to eight homeless shelters, including Covenant House, Yonge Street Mission, Seaton House, and Turning Point Youth Shelter.
The issue really hit home with Mikhaiel after he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and recently sought help.
“Mental health can affect anyone, and had it not been for the support I had from close friends and family, I may have very well ended up in a shelter,” he said.
It’s estimated that there are at least 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto during any given year, and as many as 2,000 on a given night. This is an alarming number, and Mikhaiel believes many people are unaware of the severity.
Along with doing what he can to help those in need, Mikhaiel hopes his project can raise awareness and create a continual discussion on how to find other solutions to this growing problem.
It takes courage to stand up for something you believe in, but brave individuals often spur change and can make a difference — and Mikhaiel is definitely on the right track.
If you’re interested in donating your pizza voucher, you can follow the 100 for the Homies’ Twitter page to find out where they’ll be collecting tickets after games at the Air Canada Centre.