The organizers of this year’s Toys for Tots to Teens drive are excited to see how the big day goes on Dec. 6.
For 2018, the venue for annual toy drive is Penticton Secondary and is being put together by the school’s leadership class, particularly Grade 12 students, Katie Foreman and Matthew MacDonald.
From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday, people can bring an unwrapped present to the school and enjoy breakfast and entertainment. After the event, gifts can still be dropped off at the school office until 4 p.m.
The gifts will be distributed to non-profit groups in hopes of ensuring every child in our community has something under the tree.
“It’s a great venue to host it in and we’re really excited to get more kids involved and to just have people here. It’s a nice place just to have it. We’ve had so much support from the community,” said Foreman, who said she has participated in the event since she was a tot herself.
“Usually at my elementary school, we would go sing at Toys for Tots.”
Both Foreman and MacDonald are dedicated to keeping the event going.
“It’s Christmastime and we want to support kids that aren’t as fortunate as others,” said Foreman. “If they are in an unfortunate situation, getting a little present is going to shine a little light and take their mind off of it for a bit.”
MacDonald hopes Toys for Tots to Teens has found a permanent home at the high school, after changing venues over the past few years.
“It’s moved around so much, especially in the last couple of years, it is just going to be nice to have it, hopefully, at Pen High every year from now on,” said MacDonald.
Both organizers say putting together the toy drive has been a challenge, but a great learning experience.
“At the beginning, we sat down and said ‘We need businesses, we need volunteers, we need breakfasts,” said Foreman. “We’ve had phone calls and emails and text messages. Everybody is on board, the volunteer sheets that I got last week are full. It has been a lot of work but nothing about it has been a bad experience.
“Rotary gave us some money for the breakfast, Rotarians are going to be there on the morning. The Vees will be here, LocoLanding is a sponsor, Gateway Casinos and Canadian Tire are another two big sponsors; Tim Hortons will be providing coffee out front after the breakfast period is over.”
MacDonald said another positive aspect of holding the event at the high school is being able to appeal directly to the students.
“We’ve got 1,500 students that if even a third of them are going to donate a gift, that’s still huge,” said MacDonald. Some classes, Foreman added, have already made plans to donate to the toy drive.
It may also help emphasize the “Teens” part of Toys for Tots to Teens. MacDonald said it’s important to hit the whole range, though he and Foreman admit teens can be harder to shop for, though the need is still there.
“It’s not just the big Barbie dolls and other gifts that are helping out, it’s the gift cards and the makeup,” said MacDonald.
“That is another thing that has made it especially eye-opening for me, knowing that there are kids in our school, that I could be walking past in the hallway, that are going to be benefitting from what we’re doing.”
The entertainment includes jazz bands from both Pen High and Princess Margaret Secondary, school choirs — including from an elementary school — and more.
Weather permitting, some of the entertainment will be taking place outside as well as in the school’s central multipurpose area. One choir, hopefully, will be outside to welcome everyone.
“People, as soon as they get out of their cars, they get the whole feel. They (the choir) will be out there all bundled up, but singing,” said MacDonald.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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