A pocketful of change can help change a child’s Christmas.
The News Bulletin’s Coins for Kids campaign, which started last week, is raising money this year for the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island.
For every family that receives a little help this yule season, it’s a chance at a unique and special Christmas story.
“It means a lot,” said Kim Wilson, finance coordinator with the Boys and Girls Club. “We have families that just break down and cry because they’re going to be able to have a Christmas dinner where they wouldn’t have been able to before, or their kids are going to get a toy for Christmas.
“They’re actually able to give their kids a sense of normalcy and a sense of belonging and having those kids being able to have the same experience as other children.”
The club counts on its contacts in the community to come up with a list of families in need. Donations such as the Coins for Kids money helps purchase gift cards to supermarkets or malls so that parents can go Christmas shopping.
Wilson said the Boys and Girls Club hears from kids, after the holidays, about their merry Christmas.
“You can hear them talking to their friends, and they’re able to say, ‘Oh, I got this and I got this,’ and they’re able to join in that too and not feel left out,” she said.
The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive has the same goal of sharing the spirit of giving.
Coins for Kids money helps the toy drive shoppers fill the gaps, if they didn’t receive enough toys for boys aged 12-14, for example. They consult Christmas flyers, look for bargains and talk to parents and toy sellers to determine the cool toys.
Registered families then get to select the toys for their child.
“We certainly wouldn’t know whether Tommy likes art supplies or Sally likes sports equipment,” said Carolyn Iles, toy drive spokeswoman.
The parents end up with a toy, a book, a stocking stuffer, an art activity, a plush toy for younger kids and a game for each family.
“People who come through are very grateful, many with tears in their eyes as they leave, because they know that their children will be just like the other children in Nanaimo, having something exciting under the tree at Christmas,” Iles said.
The families who benefit might be ones that have not had to ask for the community’s help before, she said.
“These are oftentimes people who are experiencing difficulties in their life, both financially and personally, that we are able, as a community, to help them through a rough patch…” she said. “[And] provide an opportunity for the parents to feel that their community supports them and that they have some hope for the future.”
The Coins for Kids campaign will run until mid-December. Donations can be dropped off at the News Bulletin, 777 Poplar St., from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations can also be made at community drop-off locations, including InPrint, John’s Bedroom Barn, Northridge Fitness, La-Z-Boy, Royal LePage at Brooks Landing, Quality Foods at University Village and Cline Medical Centre.