Kids living in 44 remote communities scattered across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will share toys valued at $80,000 this holiday season. The toys, donated largely by members of the Canadian Toy Association, were collected at CTA events throughout the past year and during the recent Toys for the North toy drive. The huge donation was announced by CTA Chair Jeff Hurst at a November 14th media preview, marking the end of the program’s second annual collection.
Held in a Toronto-area shipping warehouse owned by toy-drive supporter Thomson Terminals, Hurst made the announcement surrounded by thousands of toys. Most were already packed on skids in preparation for being flown northward for distribution. He was flanked by Peter Beresford of the Santa Claus Parade, and Superintendent Kevin Harrison, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Both organizations assisted the CTA with the launch of the inaugural 2010 drive and are official toy-drive partners again this year.
In his remarks, Hurst thanked both for their continued support, noting that more hard work was still to come for many RCMP officers based in the northern communities receiving the toys. Officers there not only wrap each and every gift, they hand-deliver them, sometimes by snowmobile and ATV — all in time for Christmas morning.
Hurst also acknowledged the contribution of the Toronto Zoo, a 2011 toy-drive affiliate, which conducts a donation program of its own. While the CTA accumulated $75,000 worth of the donated toys — a 50 percent increase over last year — the Toronto Zoo topped-up the total with toys valued at $5,000.
Finally, despite the informal warehouse surroundings, a ceremonial air was lent by the arrival of The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Nunavut, who came to officially accept the donation. Several communities, such as Pangnirtung and Saanikiluaq, are located within the Minister’s constituency. She told the audience,
“Growing up in Canada’s north, I know that this kind and generous donation of toys will make a huge impact on thousands of families. It is heartwarming to see these agencies and companies recognize the need and take action together — to bring smiles to the faces of the children of the north.”
Hurst wrapped up the event with a reminder to media and the public that additional donations to Toys for the North were welcome up to and including November 20. That’s the day the 107th edition of the Santa Claus Parade will wind through Toronto streets, bringing thousands of visitors to the city, said Hurst. On parade day, families can bring toys to an official drop box located in the CHFI-Radio tent in front of the Royal Ontario Museum. Toys are also being accepted at RCMP offices in Toronto and out-lying communities, such as Bomanville, Milton and Newmarket.