News

Penny donations help fill void

Kobe Gray, 8, and his sister Chloe, 5, make the most of playtime at the Boys and Girls Club on Fifth Street. The club is one of the gathering points for the News Bulletin’s Pennies for Presents campaign, which collects pennies to purchase Christmas presents for children of underprivileged families in Nanaimo. - CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin
Kobe Gray, 8, and his sister Chloe, 5, make the most of playtime at the Boys and Girls Club on Fifth Street. The club is one of the gathering points for the News Bulletin’s Pennies for Presents campaign, which collects pennies to purchase Christmas presents for children of underprivileged families in Nanaimo.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Opening gifts on Christmas morning creates some of the most enduring childhood memories.

Anticipation from those shiny packages, tearing open the wrapping and playing all day with a new toy are memories most adults carry with them.

But what about the children who don’t have those memories? Or worse, who have memories of other children talking about their wonderful gifts while they sit quietly, hoping no one asks about the toys they never received.

The goal of Pennies for Presents, the News Bulletin’s annual fundraising drive, is to make sure all children have a gift and a special memory waiting for them on Christmas morning.

Pennies for Presents  collects coins during the Christmas season and distributes the donations to three charities – the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, Salvation Army and Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club.

Those three groups help fulfill the goal of Pennies for Presents – that no child be left empty-handed on Christmas morning.

Staff at the Boys and Girls Club get to know the kids and their parents well and are able to use the money from the campaign to specifically target what each family may be missing.

“We tend to tailor support of families around their needs,” said Ian Kalina, executive director. “It gives us more flexibility.”

The toy drive collects donations from the community and provides toys, books and other gifts to children from newborn to 17 years of age.

Cash donations are used to purchase gifts for shortages in age groups, which usually is for teens.

The Salvation Army operates similarly, by purchasing items for their Christmas programs.

With a challenging economy, more families are facing difficult choices this Christmas, although Kalina notes that lots of families in Nanaimo make difficult choices every day.

“There’s always more need than can be met,” he said.

To donate to Pennies for Presents, please drop off coins at the News Bulletin’s office at 777 Poplar St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Donations can also be made at InPrint downtown, John’s Bedroom Barn, Northridge Fitness, Canadian Tire, Sink or Swim Scuba, La-Z-Boy, Royal LePage at Brooks Landing and Coast Realty downtown.

For more information, please e-mail arts@nanaimobulletin.com or visit www.facebook.com/penniesforpresents.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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