Despite the wintry conditions, Toronto Police and Auxiliary members were out on December 17 delivering nearly 3,000 toys to young people in Scarborough.
The annual drive started 22 years ago when Auxiliary Superintendent Frank Fernandes fielded a phone call from then police volunteer Carrie 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 weather may not be great, but that doesn’t matter,” said Fernandes. “These kids look forward to these toys and we want to make them happy during the festive season. It’s just a fun day for everyone.”
The Toronto Transit Commission donated two buses for the special deliveries.
“This is a special day for all of us,” said Auxiliary Staff Sergeant Rick Jordan. “There are a lot of people out there who need a helping hand and we are there to put a smile on their faces.”
The brand new toys were given to kids who had a chance to see on Santa's knee. It was also an opportunity for children to see the police uniform in a positive light.
“A lot of times, the kids only see us when we are there in a crisis situation,” said Staff Sergeant Andy Ecklund, of 42 Division. “It’s good for them to be able to see us in a different light. It’s really a good feeling to give out toys to kids at Christmas.”