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Young Newmarket sisters blaze trail of giving back to community

'The girls understand that young people like them can change the world,' mom Nisa says
20200707 Manha Laiba Back to school drive
The Yusuf sisters Laiba, 7, and Manha, 9, are shown here in a 2019 photo during one of their back-to-school fundraisers. Supplied photo

Two young sisters from Newmarket who embody the spirit of giving haven’t let the COVID-19 pandemic slow down their respective philanthropic activities.

Stonehaven Elementary School students Manha Yusuf, 9, and Laiba Yusuf, 7, collect financial donations every month to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for Newmarket’s only seasonal homeless shelter, Inn from the Cold.

The sisters are also fundraising for the second annual back-to-school drive that supports York Region’s youth through shelters such as 360 Kids by selling chocolates, and are raising funds to support Yellow Brick House’s ongoing mental health campaign.

Working on fundraisers and giving back to the community boosts Manha’s mental health, confidence, and leaves her feeling happy to have made a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.

Laiba’s favourite way of supporting the community is through the back-to-school fundraisers she and her sister organize to collect school supplies and funding for underprivileged children. 

“My daughters know the importance of making a difference and recognize that every little effort counts,” said mom, Nisa. “The girls understand that young people like them can change the world.”

The sisters’ past community involvements are a testament to their dedication in supporting a wide array of causes.

Some of the Yusuf siblings’ activities include:

  • A back-to-school drive for Yellow Brick House from July to August 2019, plus various fundraisers to help rebuild the lives of women and children fleeing from violence. 
  • Mental health initiatives in support of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). During the spring and summer of 2019, Manha started the Stamp Out Stigma campaign for mental health. To help patients on their way to recovery at CAMH, Manha organized barbecue fundraisers over that summer and held a Halloween-themed event in the fall. Along with sister Laiba, the pair continue to find financial sponsors for weekly breakfast programs held at CAMH that benefit patients and caregivers alike. 
  • A holiday fundraiser in November and December 2019 for the Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers that involved the collection of new items of clothing, shoes, boots, snow gear, and toys to support about 300 families and young mothers.
  • Each child admitted at Southlake Hospital during Christmas 2019 received a new plush toy and a bundle of treats, all through fundraisers and the girls’ own funds.