Knights un-wrap annual toy drive in Antigonish
The Monsignor Hugh Macpherson Council of the Knights of Columbus has un-wrapped another Christmas toy drive in Antigonish.
The ‘toy house’ opened for business, Nov. 19, at Antigonish Market Square.
“We will be there until Christmas Eve,” Clarence Deyoung said, noting volunteers remain, as long as they need to, on that final day.
He noted the location continues to be a key to the success of the toy drive.
“They have provided awesome support, and we are so thankful,” Deyoung said.
Along with the ‘toy house,’ there are toy and donation dropoff spots at East Coast Credit Union – both St. Andrews and Bergengren locations, Walmart and Atlantic Superstore.
This is the seventh year in which the Knights have spearheaded the initiative, which provides toys and others items to families in Antigonish town and county.
Last year, the toy drive benefitted 145 families, which included 385 children. In 2017, 139 families and 323 kids, in Antigonish town and county, received assistance.
“No doubt about it. Nothing has changed – the need it still there,” Deyoung said about the ongoing importance of the initiative.
As for the eligibility criteria, parents or guardians must provide proof of residency in the town or county, along with documentation showing they are receiving the child tax credit.
“You have to fill out the application in person [at the ‘toy house’]; it cannot be done over the phone,” Deyoung noted.
The theme, of sorts, for the 2018 toy drive, with target ages from newborn to 15, is fourpronged; fulfilling a ‘want and ‘need,’ for each child, while providing something to wear and to read.
“We are trying to encompass those four things,” Deyoung said.
The drive collects not only ‘new and unwrapped’ toys, but also monetary donations, with the latter used to purchase needed items, which are not donated.
“We use the money to fill those gaps,” Deyoung noted.
Describing “always needs,” he listed diapers, board games, books, craft kits and personal hygiene products.
He added hats, mittens and pyjamas are always in demand.
Deyoung also talked about the myriad of ways in which people can support the toy drive, including dropping off donations at the ‘toy house’ or other locations.
With the ‘sponsor a family’ option, he explained, people are provided with a list of children – just ages – and they make purchases and turn them over to the toy drive.
Deyoung noted businesses and organization, through modified gift exchanges, continue to participate. Rather than staff members giving gifts to each other, they buy them for toy drive recipients.
“‘We are here to return the favour,’” he said, echoing words of past toy drive recipients that are now donors, a growing part of the initiative.
In touching on the continuing generosity of the community, Deyoung noted the effort of students.
“Schools are great,” Deyoung said, noting several adopted families – often multiple ones.
As part of the toy drive, the Knights’ wish list also includes volunteer assistance.
“We are always looking for help,” Deyoung said, noting chores including everything from wrapping to assembling gift bags.
“We couldn’t do it without them,” he added.
The ‘toy house’ will be open daily during mall hours.
For more information, including to make a donation or to access the services of the toy drive, call 902-867-2648