The Great Nanaimo Toy Drive has begun and until mid-December, Nanaimo residents can donate new toys, games, and other gift items at various locations throughout Nanaimo.
The charitable campaign has been running for 35 years and has its roots from when Nanaimo resident Dorothy Gasperdone discovered that one of her son’s friends hadn’t received any Christmas gifts and vowed that it would never happen again in her community.
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While the toy drive has assisted families in need over the holiday season, Nanaimo still is a city with a reputation for high child poverty. In the latest State of the Child report from The Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership, released last Friday, the child poverty rate was 20.9 per cent in 2011 and 24.6 per cent in 2016. The overall poverty rate is 17.3 per cent.
The number of charitable efforts seeking donations always seem to ramp up during the holiday season, but this season sees much commercialization and advertisements blaring out the message to buy gifts and spend money. That can be hard if someone is below the poverty line, especially for the children.
Christmas has become a consumer-driven event, but giving and wanting people to be happy isn’t a bad thing.
While receiving gifts and the desire to receive gifts is waning as I grow older, I remember the joy I felt as a child whenever I opened presents. One of my favourite memories was receiving the Transformer Soundwave for a birthday, which was a robot that transformed into a cassette player and even came with Buzzsaw, a cassette that transformed into a bird.
There are a lot of favourite Christmas memories too. Receiving the Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link video game is among a memorable moment, even though it caused me a lot of grief as I tried to complete it, but that is all part of the fun I suppose.
It’s not always the big things either. While I have found memories of getting a skateboard, I have similar sentiments about finding a mini Star Wars snowspeeder or a G.I. Joe Airborne action figure.
In more recent times, I’ve been happy to receive a bottle of scotch or some fancy coffee or even a DVD of a movie that I like.
I even feel a lot of joy in seeing my younger relatives’ eyes light up when they open a gift I’ve given them during the holidays, as I get a great sense of satisfaction in making others happy. I don’t spend bags of money on the gifts, but I do get something I know they will like.
Christmas isn’t about gifts and presents as some will say, but it is about giving and, in my opinion, giving to the less fortunate, even if it’s only at one time of the year, isn’t a bad thing.
The numbers indicate there is child poverty in Nanaimo and while remedying that will take a while, making sure all the children in need have something under the tree is something that is easier to achieve.