“I grew up in the far east of Newfoundland. I know it’s not customary to bring guns to a toy drive, but this reminds me of my youth.”
Steve Payne, smiling and brandishing a giant Nerf Mega Motostryke – “motorized blasting!” – helped to kick off the annual Northwestel and Salvation Army toy drive earlier this week.
Last year, nearly 500 toys were collected to be redistributed over the holiday season.
This year, you have until December 11 to drop off a toy at Northwestel’s Whitehorse or downtown Yellowknife stores.
In Yellowknife, those toys will then be given out by the Salvation Army. Northwestel also donated $5,000 to the charity on the day it launched this year’s toy drive.
“The donations received help to bridge the socio-economic gap that exists in Yellowknife, ensuring all families can give and receive over the holidays,” said city councillor Payne.
“The importance of community was truly highlighted during this past wildfire season. We’ve all seen the different ways in which residents, organizations and businesses came together to help support one another. Life is made easier when surrounded by friendly faces, helpful neighbours and useful resources.”
Beverly Brushett, of Yellowknife’s Salvation Army, said: “It really does something for a child’s self-esteem to open up something new that was given to them … we’re honoured to be a part of this.”
She stressed that parents come in and select the toys they think will be best for their families, rather than children simply being assigned a gift. “The parent knows the child,” she said. “The child will get what’s appropriate for them. I love that. I can’t wait.”
Continuing the Newfoundland theme Payne started, Tony Brushett added: “We came from the East Coast just four months ago. And often when we’re around our own home, we’re saying: ‘Are we still in Newfoundland?’ The culture here is so similar to us. Everything is family-oriented.
“We’re going to do Christmas as a community. We’re expecting that we’ll be looking after about 750 families this year, and this is certainly a huge, huge boost to what we need to do.”
Pointing to festively wrapped large boxes awaiting donations, he said: “We’re looking forward to filling these boxes over and over again.”