Hundreds of children will receive toys for Christmas this year through the Salvation Army Tillsonburg hamper program.
Families began picking up their toys bundled up in bags – and food gift cards – on Dec. 13 from the Salvation Army Community Church on Concession Street West.
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Sorting the first selection of toys took about two weeks, said volunteer Debby Kock, and they still had several tables full of toys ready to be packed or saved for next year.
“So many people are donating,” said Claire Laker, Community and Family Services worker, who estimated they had more than a thousand toys donated by the community for nearly 200 families.
“It’s been growing as the month’s gone on,” said Laker. “I’ve been answering the phone every day with more requests. There was quite a need this year and we’ve tried to accommodate everyone, every family.”
Some larger families received five bags of toys.
“Depending on how many kids in a family, it can be up to five bags (per family). It depends … if there’s one or two children it’s probably one or two bags.”
“We’re always, always looking for more for the teens, the 12 to 17s,” Kock noted. “We’re always lacking in that, girls and boys, every year.”
Toys are sorted according to age/gender and Kock encourages people to make their donations as early as possible in November to help the sorting and packing process.
“I usually say by the end of November or the first week of December,” said Laker, who credited a team of volunteers, including Debby Kock, Judy Legg, Sharen Harris, Fran Bell, Nancy Wells and Mahri Ana Azucena, for their hard work sorting and packing toys.
“It’s been a lot of work but if it wasn’t for these girls it wouldn’t have happened. They are like the elves, they really are.”
The final day for 2021 hamper/toy pickups is Dec. 23.