Joy to the children.
An overwhelming outpouring of generosity and kindness at two toy drives this week will mean hundreds of kids will have something under the tree this year.
The auditorium of the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre was packed to the rafters Thursday morning with people and toys and the spirit of the season.
Co-organizer and sponsor Jerry Pokorny of the Gateway Gives and LocoLanding Community Toy Drive estimated more than a 1,000 people attending the inaugural event bringing with them more than 5,100 items along with $1,300 in cash.
“It hits you, you know it really does and I know we will fill the Christmas needs for kids this year, I know that,” said Pokorny, executive general manager of Gateway Casino’s and Entertainment Ltd. as he looked around the room. “People aren’t bringing in one gift, they’re bringing in boxes, they’re bringing in bags, Bruce (Schoenne) from Schoenne Homes brought an entire van (full of toys).
“Seeing the smiles on the faces of everybody in here, all pulling together for the communities this is what it’s all about. People are just loving this so much and we couldn’t be happier.”
Included in the donations were some very special items, two BMX bicycles, two iPods, a signed Bo Horvat Canucks jersey, a Samsung tablet and a Dell 15-inch tablet.
Diana Stirling took on the task of putting together the sit-down breakfast event in October and enlisted the sponsorship of Gateway who were quick to jump on board.
The project immediately took off and the momentum continued to build up until Thursday’s successful conclusion.
Spectra (formerly Global Spectrum) employees began cooking at 4 a.m. that morning and people were already waiting to get in the decorated hall when the doors opened two hours later.
Over 100 volunteers from all factions of the community from politicians to fire, RCMP and members of the Penticton Vee’s who were fresh off an overtime win the night before all lent a hand.
“Today has just been absolutely amazing, and it’s all for the kids,” said Pokorny.