Community delivers for revamped toy drive
Hundreds of toys dropped off at Pen-Hi during breakfast portion of Toys for Tots to Teens campaign
Anyone taking a quick look inside the Penticton Secondary School common area Thursday morning could have been forgiven for thinking Santa’s workshop had exploded.
Hundreds of toys of all shapes and sizes were stacked high on tables following the breakfast portion of the Toys for Tots to Teens campaign.
After the dishes were cleared at 9 a.m., students began the process of sorting the toys into bags for 10 local non-profit groups that had requested gifts for their young clients.
“So, for example, Dragonfly Pond (Family Society) has a seven-year-old boy who likes trains; we’re going to make sure there’s a train in that bag for that boy,” explained Katie Foreman, one of the student organizers.
She estimated 700 toys had been dropped off in exchange for about 550 breakfasts, and with gifts being collected for the rest of the day, organizers’ goal of 1,000 donations appeared to be within reach.
“My heart is full,” said Foreman.
“I took a second in the middle of it to just stand and watch, and I couldn’t stop smiling.”
This marked the first year the event was hosted by Pen-Hi and its leadership class. In past years, it has bounced around various local businesses.
The tradition dates back to the 1990s when Jack Swoboda from the Penticton Inn dreamed up the idea. The format has changed over the years, eventually moving from the Penticton Inn to the Penticton Lakeside Resort, Canadian Tire and Cascades Casino.
Sadly, the need for such an event hasn’t disappeared.
One in five kids in B.C. lives in poverty, according to a report released last month by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.
Based on statistics from 2016 — the most recent year for which data is available — the report estimated the number of B.C. kids in poverty at 172,500, half of whom were being raised by single parents.
Pen-Hi students sort through the hundreds of gifts that were donated Thursday during the Toys for Tots to Teens campaign.