As the snow begins to fall, Yellowknifers are encouraged to spread some Christmas cheer by donating toys to families in need.
Northwestel launched its annual holiday toy drive on Thursday, in partnership with the local Salvation Army.
“This toy drive is a testament to nobody being left behind,” said Northwestel general manager Imran Khan. “No gift is too large or small.”
Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty added the event will help create a sense of normalcy during an unusual year.
“I think that the pandemic’s been an extra challenge and so to be able to provide a Christmas that looks like the others will be welcome,” she said.
Jason Brinson, executive director of the Yellowknife Salvation Army, explained that people who are eligible will be able to “shop” for presents for their children among the donated toys.
“We believe that that provides a bit more dignity to people, where they can come and get something that they know their child will enjoy,” he said.
Among the toys already donated are a Polly Pocket set, a remote control car, a Buzz Lightyear action figure, and Khan’s donation: a Hot Wheels race track.
“This brings out a little bit of an inner geek and child in me,” he said. “Growing up I always liked racing, and I really wish and hope that this set inspires the young ones to race and get some of their career direction.”
People can drop off unopened and unwrapped toys for kids up to age 16 at Northwestel’s retail centre until December 10.
Christmas hampers to use voucher system
The Salvation Army has also launched its annual Christmas hamper program, but this year it will look different.
Instead of collecting donations of turkeys and other food items for a holiday dinner, Brinson said, this year the Salvation Army will give out vouchers for the Co-op. That way, he explained, people can select food that meets their tastes and dietary needs.
“We’re really excited about that voucher system,” he said. “We’re hopeful that this program, if successful, might be the way forward in terms of Christmas hamper programs.”
Brinson said the Salvation Army is still accepting food donations for its regular hamper programs.
On Thursday, Northwestel donated $5,000 to the Christmas hamper program.
“It’s in our DNA to assist and support the community and it’s the holiday season, so we’d love to spread some cheer as we go along,” Khan said.