Apr 5, 2024

Generations of kindness: Remembering Otto and Marie Pick Charitable Foundation 

What began as a random act of kindness by Otto Pick irrevocably changed the trajectory of the Pick family and set a path to the creation of the Remembering Otto and Marie Pick Charitable Foundation. The foundation has since become responsible for hundreds more acts of kindness, including vital support for Daily Bread’s emergency food programs across the city through financial donations totaling $40,000.

In 1938, Otto Pick, accustomed to helping strangers, offered a ride to a bedraggled hitchhiker travelling from neighbouring Germany.  The hitchhiker shared stories of the atrocities taking place under the Nazi regime, warning that Hitler’s army would soon invade Otto’s home country of Czechoslovakia.

Otto, wisely taking heed of those words, packed up his young family and emigrated to Canada. 

Once in Canada, Otto and his wife Marie worked a few odd jobs to provide for their growing family. Otto eventually landed a job with a seed company. Having a background in farming and agriculture, it wasn’t long before Otto learned enough to strike out on his own and Pickseed was established.

Charles Pick, Otto’s grandson, fondly remembers the early days of Pickseed, when it was run from the family’s garage and a few outbuildings on their property in Richmond Hill.

Ensuring everyone had enough to eat was important to the Picks, even back then, explains Charles. “I remember as a child, watching my mom line up cold cuts in the kitchen. Half the office staff would come over to the house, my mother would feed everyone, and then they would head back to work.”

Sadly, Otto passed away suddenly in his early 50’s leaving the family business to Marie and her two sons, including Charles’ father, to manage. Together, with support from Charles in later years, they grew the business into the third largest turf company in the world. 

In 2013, Charles’ father and uncle made the decision to sell Pickseed. That decision would launch the establishment of the Remembering Otto and Marie Pick Charitable Foundation.

The Foundation is truly a family affair, run by Charles, his brother, their partners, his uncle, and their parents.

As Toronto continues to see high rates of food insecurity, with a record 301,354 client visits to member agencies this past February, helping to provide food access to those in need is as important to Charles and his family as it was all those years ago.

“This is like our second act,” says Charles. “We can now take that good fortune we had with this business and give back.” “Food and shelter are the most important things in terms of hierarchy of needs. Because our family was involved in agriculture, it just makes sense that we support organizations like Daily Bread.” Since 2017, the Remembering Otto and Marie Pick Foundation has worked in partnership with Daily Bread in their fight to end hunger for the 13,000 individuals in Toronto who make use of a food bank for the first time each month.

Click here to donate if you would like to support Daily Bread in providing access to nutritious food for the 1 in ten Torontonians currently relying on food banks.

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