Christina Ou has always been aware of how fortunate she is, even from a young age. Growing up in Toronto, Ou recalls her elementary school lunch program offering soup and pizza to students for fifty cents. Yet, she noticed that many of her friends still could not afford the cheap meals.
“I think at a young age I was well aware of what I had and what other people didn’t,” she recalled.
A second-year student majoring in Health and Life Science, Ou founded Carleton University’s chapter of Canadian Feed the Children this year after volunteering at their Toronto head office. The national organization raises money and awareness for poverty issues in Canada. The focus of the Carleton Chapter is to raise money to fund nutrition programs for children that are living on or off reserves.
When she first began volunteering at Canadian Feed the Children this past summer, Ou was surprised to learn that the charity focuses specifically on Canadians. “I was talking to one of the employees there and I asked, ‘How is it possible that we’re raising money for Canada? How ironic. Why would you raise money for Canada?’ It was kind of a shocking factor, so I wanted to raise awareness because of that,” she said.
She also recalls her experience in school. “I had a free breakfast program at my elementary school, why can’t they have it in Alberta? How is that really fair? I’m Canadian, they’re Canadian,” she said.
Ou is no stranger to volunteering. In fact, she spends much of her free time helping the community in any way she can.
“I guess this is one of my personal hobbies. I love helping out charities, I’ve always been doing it,” she explains.
“Even in high school, I volunteered at an organization that helps seniors. I spent a lot of time doing that, and then I worked at Canadian Feed the Children of course, and I volunteer at the Canadian Cancer Society head office.”
Her dedication to a variety of causes is grounded in her desire to give back.
“I always believe in giving back to people, no matter what the cause is. So I’ve always been passionate about volunteering and helping out as much as possible.
“I’ve grown up in a community where I always feel like I’m very fortunate to be in Canada. I’m fortunate enough to go to university, I’m fortunate enough to have a home, I’m fortunate to have food.”
Ou says that Canada does have many opportunities, but realizes that many Canadians still struggle with poverty. “With the resources I have, I want to help people out, and that’s why I started the club,” she said.
Ultimately, Ou plans to continue her volunteer work in addition to balancing a career.
“Ideally, I really want to get to medical school and start my own charity.”
She said she would like to be involved with teens and has thought about starting a charity for homeless and drug-involved youth.
“I’m hoping to go into med school, but I’m not really sure at this point. I really like this volunteering thing so we’ll see where it takes me. I just feel that it’s very important never to forget the fact that we are fortunate.”