Knights un-wrap an­nual toy drive in Antigo­nish

The Casket - - Local - COREY LEBLANC coreyle­[email protected]­cas­ket.ca

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

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