Com­mu­nity de­liv­ers for re­vamped toy drive

Hun­dreds of toys dropped off at Pen-Hi dur­ing break­fast por­tion of Toys for Tots to Teens cam­paign

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE FRIES

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.

JOE FRIES/Pen­tic­ton Her­ald

Pen-Hi stu­dents sort through the hun­dreds of gifts that were do­nated Thurs­day dur­ing the Toys for Tots to Teens cam­paign.

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