Alex Haditaghi remembers the Wonder Bread and how it was always on top of the weekly basket of groceries his mother picked up from the Scott Mission.
Haditaghi, 38, came to Canada as a refugee from Iran with his mother, brother and sister in 1988, following the death of his father in a car accident.
His single mother couldn’t afford groceries, and Scott Mission, a Christian organization helping Toronto’s most vulnerable since 1941, made sure the fridge was always stocked.
On Friday, Haditaghi – now a successful businessman and founder of Pacific Mortgage Group – donated 1,400 turkeys to Scott Mission and stood on Spadina Ave., near College St., handing them out to those in need.
“It was very difficult for my mother to even give us food,” said Haditaghi, eyeing the lineup of people waiting for a holiday turkey.
“That used to be me in that line,” he said.
Haditaghi, who went from living in a cramped basement apartment to a lavish Yorkville condo, decided to give back to Scott Mission after his Mercedes broke down in front of it last week.
Waiting for roadside assistance, he realized he was parked right out front of the very same place that ensured his family’s survival.
He thought of donating turkeys as a way to give back, and his car started again – a sign his idea was meant to be.
“I remembered, even as Muslims, we picked up a turkey from here and celebrated Christmas,” said Haditaghi. “It made us so happy.”
Haditaghi said one Christmas, while he was waiting in line for a turkey, a man in a nice car stopped by and donated some food.
“I wanted to be that guy one day,” he said. “I know that some day one of the kids here in line today is going to do what I’m doing.”
Scott Mission, which has a 45-bed shelter, offers hot meals twice a day, six days a week, a low-cost child care centre, youth programs and groceries for low-income families.
Peter Duraisami, CEO of Scott Mission, thought Haditaghi was kidding when he first pitched the turkey giveaway idea last week.
“Then he was in tears and I was in tears,” said Duraisami, who helped hand out the turkeys Friday morning.
“This is just awesome,” Duraisami said. “This is what the Mission is all about.”