The 2021 Northwestel and Salvation Army holiday toy drive kicked off Nov. 15.

“The Salvation Army does these kind of drives because we want to make sure that each child has something for Christmas,” said Jason Brinson, the Salvation Army’s executive director. “We know that sometimes people will struggle between having to spend money in other areas. We don’t want for people to have to decide between their hydro bill and a toy for their children, if we can provide that (toy) for someone, that means they can redirect funds elsewhere to something else that’s also important to them.”

Donations for the toy drive, which runs to Dec. 10, can be dropped off at Northwestel’s retail centre or at the Salvation Army, where a toy shop will be accessible in the future.

“People can come around and shop for the toy, rather than being issued the toy,” said Brinson. “That provides a lot of joy for us.”

As for a goal for the toy drive, Brinson says “the more, the merrier.”

“We do know that there are shortages at times during the year,” he said. “We do really try to bridge that gap however we can. Our kettle drive will help to support some of the toys, as well as the food hampers through the year. So we are often able to bridge the needs based on that, but if the community were to provide more toys then we can divert those funds to other services folks need as well.”

During the kick-off event, Paul Gillard, Northwestel’s vice-president of business markets, provided a $5,000 donation from the telecom toward the Salvation Army’s hamper program.

“Well, we have a long-standing partnership with the Salvation Army. I think everybody in town is keenly aware of the the value that they add to our community, especially in the challenging times of Covid,” said Gillard. “We just thought that, again, with Covid and the challenges that everybody is facing, it would be a good year to take a step above the toy drive and add $5,000 dollars to the hamper program, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Mayor Rebecca Alty, who was also on hand on Nov. 15, called Christmas a “special time” and lauded the annual toy drive.

“It’s an opportunity to ensure that everybody gets something under the Christmas tree this year,” said Alty. “I do love that the Salvation Army sets it up like the toy shop so that caregivers can come in and select a toy for their loved ones.

“If people can, it’s a great opportunity to support this event and ensure there’s Christmas cheer for all.”

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