The 11th annual Hay River Secret Santa Toy Drive will take place on Dec. 11 and organizers are looking forward to another generous year of toy donations for those in need.

Tracy Cross Gauthier, program coordinator, said that residents can look forward to the town’s emergency services and RCMP driving through town with sirens, bells and whistles to notify people as to when they can leave unwrapped toys for delivery. The drive through will take place at 11 a.m.

“This is only my second year as program coordinator but based on the last year’s numbers, there were approximately 125 homes that we contributed to and that based on the numbers that we crunched for last year that’s between 650 and 700 gifts that were given out,” she said.

Cross Gauthier said she expects her organization to be likely facing a greater need because of some instances in the community where people have lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

“We’re obviously hoping to raise enough to be able to support those numbers this year, again,” she said.”With COVID still being very relevant. I’m going to assume that it has affected a great deal of people and families and so we want to be able to provide that assistance to the children.”

Volunteer gift wrappers will be working this week from Dec. 9 to 11 on donated toys that have been collected to date.

With the campaign having started on Nov. 22, residents have until Dec. 15 to contribute gifts and monetary donations.

Drop boxes can be found around the community at Aurora Ford, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, and Ring’s Pharmacy.

People can also drop gifts or monetary donations at Secret Santa’s home on the second floor of Mackenzie Electric in the Industrial area anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Dec 9 to 11.

Residents can also send monetary donations by e-transfer at hayriversecretsanta@gmail.com.

Delivery date

The actual date of delivery for toys to families by local emergency services will take on the morning of Dec. 18.

“We just let people know what day they are doing so that families can try to be home or make sure that somebody is aware so that we can get as many of these gifts delivered,” Cross Gauthier said.

A message was left with Travis Wright, fire chief and director of protective services with the Town of Hay River on Dec. 6 but he could not be reached by this week’s edition deadline.

The Secret Santa organization had rented a site at the Campground Christmas featuring a fire department light display at the Hay River Territorial Park from Dec. 3 to 5. People were invited to drop off unwrapped gifts for the collection effort , however a full tally of what was donated was not available on Monday as the site was still being disassembled.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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