Two decades ago, Auxiliary Superintendent Frank Fernandes fielded a phone call from then police volunteer Rebecca Malin seeking assistance for some kids staying at low-cost hotels on Kingston Road.
The families were biding time during the festive season at the short-term facilities until the government came up with housing for them.
Knowing their families were not in a financial position to provide toys for the kids, Malin, who is now an Auxiliary officer, started a toy drive to bring smiles to the faces of children in women’s shelters and community centres in the city’s east end.
The annual toy drive now supports nearly 3,000 young people in Scarborough.
This year’s toy drive ends on December 13 and Auxiliary staff along with community members will deliver the toys the following day.
Constable Mark Gray, of 42 Division, the event co-ordinator, said this year’s drive is off to a slow start.
“Things are, however, beginning to pick up and we will have toys for all the kids,” he added. “Even though we are delivering on December 14, we will continue to accept toys up until December 30.”
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.
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).
Currently, over 340 Auxiliary officers 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.