Carolyn Iles

Carolyn Iles

Great Nanaimo Toy Drive drive kicks off

NANAIMO – Volunteers are once again doing their part to ensure needy children have gifts under the tree for Christmas.

The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive volunteers are once again doing their part to ensure that needy children have gifts under the tree for Christmas.

The campaign sees the collection of new toys and games distributed to families in need. Approximately 1,480 children received gifts last year, said toy drive president and treasurer Sheila Bonwick.

Toys for children up to 16 years of age are accepted, but toys for older children are especially appreciated as they are sometimes short in supply.

“Each year we have some shoppers that go out and buy extra toys for teenagers because that age group doesn’t get given to quite as much as the younger ones,” Bonwick said.

A number of organizations throughout Nanaimo are aiding the cause and amongst those are Edgewood Addiction Treatment, which is holding a toy drive Nov. 30, and the Nanaimo Clippers junior hockey club, which will be holding its annual teddy bear toss at a game on Dec. 7.

The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive started in 1983 when a local mother, Dorothy Gaspardone, saw that were needy children in her neighbourhood.

“With the help of the corrections institute at the time, they helped to repair toys – used toys, almost new toys – and that’s how it started and so it has been going for 31 years,” Bonwick said.

Toys can be dropped off, unwrapped, at Woodgrove, North Nanaimo and Country Club shopping centres, all Coastal Community Credit Unions, Save-On-Foods, Budget Storage locations and city fire halls, the Port Theatre and the Nanaimo Museum until Dec. 16. Cash donations can also be made.

Families in need can register – they must present children’s identification – until Dec. 11 at numerous areas, which are listed at the toy drive website. Toy distribution takes place Dec. 18-19 at the Harewood school gym on Fifth Street.