Toys for Joys sol­dier­ing on

An­nual Labrador West fundraiser will con­tinue with new lead­er­ship

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page - BY EVAN CAREEN THE AURORA

When the Roger Lyons Memo­rial Toys for Joys fundraiser started off 26 years ago, no one in­volved would have guessed it would still be go­ing or have been as suc­cess­ful as it has been.

One of the event founders, Fred Fewer, is step­ping away this year and said it’s a strange ex­pe­ri­ence for him.

“It will be weird to not be a part of it this year,” he told The Aurora in a phone in­ter­view from his home in Nova Sco­tia. “It’s been a part of my life for so long.”

Fewer, who has been the chairperson for the event since 2002, was a mem­ber of the band 6 Pack, that de­cided to put off the event all those years ago to raise money to help get Christ­mas toys for chil­dren who aren’t as for­tu­nate.

“It was a big down­turn in the econ­omy then and a lot of peo­ple were hurt­ing,” he said. “The band got to­gether and started talk­ing about how we could give back. Then this idea came up to help fam­i­lies with Christ­mas. And it’s grown into what it is to­day.”

Roger Lyons, the singer for the band, passed away in 2002 and the event was named in his hon­our.

Fewer was the last orig­i­nal mem­ber of the band still in­volved and this will be the first year he’s missed it. He said when they started it was just an­other fundraiser that the band was in­volved in, one of many over the years.

“That first year we raised about $2,500 or so,” he said. “Last year it was around $30,000. We didn’t think it would ever get to where is now, much less last this long.”

Fewer said they raised so much money they ended up ex­pand­ing the man­date be­yond Christ­mas and also pro­vide funds to help peo­ple who need to travel for med­i­cal rea­sons.

He said the com­mu­nity de­serves the ac­co­lades, since they step up ev­ery year to help.

“The peo­ple of Lab West, all you have to do is give them a rea­son to do­nate and they’re there,” he said. “With­out the peo­ple the Toys for Joys would never have lasted this long.”

When he and long­time board mem­ber Bill Ab­bott were de­cid­ing to step away from the project this year they weren’t sure if the event would keep go­ing, but oth­ers stepped for­ward to fill their roles.

“It’s been harder the last few years, where I don’t live there any­more, or­ga­niz­ing things and keep­ing it up,” he said. “But peo­ple stepped up and want to keep it go­ing.”

He said it’s touch­ing to see peo­ple want to keep it go­ing for the kids, as it can have a real im­pact.

Fewer said a few years ago he was out at busi­nesses col­lect­ing do­na­tions and the per­son be­hind the counter asked if he could shake his hand.

“I asked why and the guy told me that he had been down on his luck the year be­fore that and got laid off,” he said. “He didn’t have any cash and on Christ­mas Eve they were try­ing to scrape to­gether some gifts for their three kids and a knock came on the door.”

At the door were vol­un­teers from Toys for Joys with toys for the kids. He said the man vol­un­teered with them the fol­low­ing year.

“This is real, it’s real peo­ple and real is­sues,” he said. “To have a child wake up and have a gift and for me to know I was a part of that makes me feel good.”

This year’s Toys for Joys event will be held at the Le­gion in Labrador City on Nov. 24.

FILE PHOTO

Fred Fewer will be step­ping away from the an­nual Roger Lyons Memo­rial Toys for Joys fundraiser this year. Fewer was the last orig­i­nal mem­ber of the band who started the event.

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