As a support worker at Julliette’s Place Family Shelter, Simone Thomas has seen first-hand the impact toys can have on the lives of children.
“We have seen women and their children lead some very abusive and horrific lives,” she said, at the launch of the Toronto Police Service Auxiliary 19th annual Toy Drive on Oct. 26 in the 42 Division Community Room.
“Women sometimes come to the shelter with just the clothing on the backs and a toy for their child as comfort.
“When officers from 42 and other surrounding Divisions come to our shelter to distribute the toys, it means the world to these women who might not be able to afford a gift for their children at Christmas time. It means so much to the children who didn’t even know if they were going to celebrate Christmas. To see the smiles on their faces when they open up the gifts is something else. For some, it’s the first time they have ever seen Santa Claus.”
Auxiliary officer Carrie Malin started the toy drive to bring smiles to the faces of children in women’s shelters and community centres in the city’s east end. Currently, over 340 Auxiliaries volunteer approximately 70,000 hours of their time annually to assist the Service’s community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call-outs.
“It’s amazing when you see the smiles and excitement of the children each year,” said Auxiliary Insp. Tom Manley, the toy drive committee chair.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to serve this wonderful resource which is our youth. Over the years, we have made a positive impact in a small way and shaped our young people to be positive in things they can do as they grow up. In a small way, we are also shaping our future through this toy drive.”
Supt. Kathryn Martin, unit commander at 42 Division, praised the volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the toy drive that supports nearly 3,000 children and youth in Scarborough.
“This initiative, in my opinion, is the best outreach program we have in Scarborough,” she said.
Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at 41 Division (2222 Eglinton Ave. E.), 42 Division (242 Milner Ave.), 43 Division (4331 Lawrence Ave. E) 33 Division (50 Upjohn Rd.), TD Canada Trust (2561 Victoria Park Ave.) or at Member of Parliament Rathika Sitsabaiesan’s constituency office (8130 Sheppard Ave. E., Suite 104).
All new, unwrapped toy donations are welcome but there is always a high demand for toys for boys and girls between the ages of 10-14.
This year’s toy drive ends on December 14.