Northwestel and the Salvation Army have kicked off their 2021 holiday toy drive in Yellowknife.
Between now and December 10, Northwestel will be collecting unwrapped toys at its store on the ground floor of its building in downtown Yellowknife. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the store.
The toys will be picked up and distributed to families by the Salvation Army in mid-December.
“One of the things we want to do is to improve the dignity around receiving this type of service,” explained the Salvation Army’s executive director, Jason Brinson.
“What we do now, as opposed to previous years, is we set the toys up like a toy shop,” he said, allowing families to come and “shop” for free toys.
Previously, when gifts were distributed without a caregiver having any input, there was a risk children would receive toys they already had or things they weren’t interested in.
“It’s one of the core values of the Salvation Army – dignity. So we’re always looking for ways to improve that,” Brinson said.
“And I know that it does make a difference. We will remember people that come through and from start to finish, they’ll be crying tears of joy because they know their family member will have a present under the tree.”
Paul Gillard, the vice-president of business markets for Northwestel, said the holiday toy drive has been running for at least 20 years.
“It’s a longstanding tradition,” he said. “We really enjoy it, even in these challenging times.”
Gillard encouraged people purchasing gifts to remember teens in their shopping.
“When we do think of toys, we tend to think of young children. I would ask people that are going to participate in this to not forget the older kids. Teenagers quite often are the ones that are most underserved around the Christmas period.”
At Monday’s launch, Northwestel said it had also committed $5,000 to the Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program.