Jamal Campbell was never completely sure how the food box ended up in his house when he grew up with Jane and Finch in Toronto, but he understood what it meant to his family.
He saw relief and gratitude.
He grew one of four children to a single mother, Christina. which he says worked around the clock, trying to provide a better life for his children.
“She’s a wonderful woman,” said Campbell, now a striker for the assault on his hometown of the Argonauts. “I get hard work from her. Growing up, watching her take care of me and my brothers and sisters. She raised us all alone over the years. ”
The Campbell family relied on many community services, and Christina paid for them by voluntarily putting her family’s efforts into summer camps and other programs, helping to ensure their presence in other needy families.
“It has always been important for us to give back,” Campbell told CBC Sports. “It helped me build my character, and I understood all the blessings that I have.”
All these years later, Campbell can fully understand how the vital food banks and other public services helped to achieve the life he had always imagined.
“As a child, I needed this support and would not be where I am today if it were not for the help of others,” he said.
Now that Canada and the rest of the world are fighting a global pandemic, Campbell is contributing to the response.
On Monday, the Canadian Football League launched its annual Purolator Tackle Hunger initiative in support of food banks across Canada. Typically, the campaign began at the height of the CFL season, allowing fans to bring non-perishable products to the stadiums, but with the delayed season the league started early because so many people needed.
Since 2003, this employee-based initiative has helped deliver more than 13 million pounds of food to families across the country. Campbell does everything he can to raise awareness of the changes he can make, and did it for his family.
This crisis is greater than sport and business. It is about people and life.– CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosi
“This is important,” he said. “When we grew up, we received our box of food, I was grateful for that, and I know that my family was, but I did not understand the complexity of how we got it.”
In 2019, an average of 1.1 million people visited food banks across the country. A third of them are children. The current obstacle for food banks is that they cannot accept physical donations from the population due to the virus. Thus, CFL asks Canadians to donate money to help food banks.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosi says the league is doing its best to ease the burden of worrying about putting food on the table.
“This crisis is bigger than sport and business. It concerns people and life, ”he said.
“At this time of self-isolation and separation, it’s important to know that we can come together for something. Coronavirus and food insecurity are affecting us all – children, families, communities and, in essence, ours, who we are as Canadians. ” Now, more than ever, we must support, support and protect each other. ”
Campbell is deeply introspective and vulnerable. He is not shy about speaking frankly about the long and winding journey he took to achieve this goal – he only recently signed a three-year extension of his contract with Argos.
May 22, 2016 Campbell was selected 22nd in the overall classification of CFL Argos. He said that this was one of the greatest moments of his life – his mother and family were with him at their house when an announcement was made, hugging and celebrating.
“There are no words to explain this moment. It took a long way to get there, ”Campbell said.
The 26-year-old striker understands where he comes from, what he has, and does not take it for granted – this is what makes him give today.
For many years, he has been a leading player in helping raise awareness of the CFL food bank campaign. He was in food cans, met with volunteers and helped actors who make food boxes.
“It actually helped me a little humble myself. It reminded me when I was younger, ”said Campbell.
“When you return a few years later and see the process, people, it really goes through a full circle and shows that there is a lot of love. That is what we must stand right now. ”
Proud of its roots Jane Finch
Campbell inexorably sacrifices his community. He still lives in Jane and Finch, a community in Toronto Campbell says he has social and economic problems, but he is proud to call home.
“Many people work and fuss. Many are simply trying to make something more of themselves. I think that is where I gained strength, ”said Campbell.
“There will be many young people from this community and other parts of Toronto who will have a huge impact on this world. I just want to inspire them on this journey. Just believe. “
In 2017, Campbell received the Urban Hero Award for his work with youth in society. He volunteers in extracurricular activities, food banks, clubs for boys and girls, as well as in a number of community sports programs.
He says that when he talks with young children and young athletes, he sees so much of himself in them and wants to remind them of their potential.
“You just see how many abilities they have. They don’t even understand this. They don’t see their greatness, ”said Campbell.
“We must continue to show them how great they can be.”