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'They don't want to stop': Young Newmarket sisters supporting shelter with Mother’s Day fundraiser

Manha, 10, and Laiba, 8, are selling rose bouquets, baskets of fresh fruit, and seasonal planters in the hopes of raising $2,000 for Inn From the Cold

Two charitable Newmarket sisters just can't stop giving back to their community.

Manha Yusuf, 10, and Laiba Yusuf, 8, are running a Mother’s Day fundraiser with the goal of raising $2,000 for Newmarket homeless shelter Inn From the Cold. Until May 6, the girls will be taking orders for a variety of gifts online, with all proceeds going toward shelter, supplies and support for Newmarket’s homeless. Residents looking to treat a special someone can pick up a 24-rose bouquet for $40, a basket of assorted fresh fruit for $50, and a seasonal planter for $50.

The girls are offering curbside pickup and free local delivery across Newmarket and Aurora May 7 to 9. Currently, they’re halfway to their fundraising goal.

“They wanted to raise funds for Inn From the Cold due to the pandemic and the greater need,” said Nisa Chaudhry, the girls’ mother.

Manha and Laiba are seasoned volunteers. Since 2019, they’ve made it their mission to fundraise on a monthly basis, documenting each new campaign on Facebook. The girls volunteer in honour of their late aunt, who frequently raised money for worthy causes.

Manha and Laiba’s fundraisers have included two annual back-to-school drives in support of York Region's 360°kids and Yellow Brick House, two holiday campaigns in support of Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers and the Canadian Mental Health Association, and a toy drive for SickKids. To help raise money and supplies for those in need, the girls have hosted school supply, toy, and food drives, candy and gift fundraisers, charity barbecues, and more. For the enterprising Yusuf sisters, there really is no such thing as working too hard.

The girls have already raised $1,630 for Inn From the Cold from a Valentine’s Day fundraiser they held earlier this year, equivalent to 3.5 nights of shelter for the homeless.

Next on the Yusuf sisters’ plate is their third annual back-to-school drive and Buddy Benches, a mentorship program where young children can speak to older youth about homework, school and life.

“They’ve been confident to speak about their work in class, in school, to younger kids, inspiring them to say ‘let’s do this’,” said Chaudhry. “It really makes me feel good.”

In recognition of their work, the Yusuf sisters were recently nominated for Volunteer Markham’s Community Champions award, with Manha taking home the win.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, they were also presented with a certificate of appreciation from Newmarket Mayor John Taylor, who commended their “inspirational” and “outstanding” volunteer efforts.

Most recently, the talented sisters have received awards at the virtual Peterborough Regional Science Fair. Laiba received a prize pack for her project “The effect of global warming on polar bears”, and Manha received an Award of Excellence for her project “Can free range chickens learn to escape predators?”

“The awards were big honours for the girls,” said Chaudhry. “They were so excited and enthusiastic to be recognized for the work they do. They’ve been feeling great.”

The family urges Newmarket residents to consider supporting their Mother’s Day fundraiser, as well as the many volunteer projects to come.

“They don’t want to stop,” said Chaudhry. “They’re always saying ‘what’s something else can we do now?’ One after the other, after the other. They’re always telling me new ways they want to help.”