Hundreds of people bearing gifts turned up for the annual Toys for Tots to Teens at Penticton Secondary Thursday.
From 7 a.m. until after closing at 9 a.m., a steady stream of gift givers, including an entire Grade 1 and 2 class from Queens Park Elementary, dropped off their presents, which eventually lined the entire length of the central multipurpose area.
“Unexpectedly awesome,” is how Pen High leadership student and co-organizer Matthew MacDonald described the turnout. “It’s pretty amazing how many people came, I thought maybe at a new place it might take people a little while to latch onto it.
“I honestly could not tell you how many toys we have. Hopefully, we got 1,500 because that was our goal, but it’s looking like we got at least that.”
Christine Simmons of the Salvation Army, one of the organizations that will receive some of the donations for its Christmas hamper campaign, was also thrilled with the response.
“It’s my favourite event because it’s toys and I’m a kid at heart but really, the bigger thing is seeing the reward of the community coming together to serve children and families,” said Simmons. “The need is great, as always, and this is an amazing response.”
As they have been for nearly 20 years, Canadian Tire was again one of the major sponsors.
“We moved to town 14 years ago and took over the business. The last Canadian tire owner was involved and we just took over the tradition. We think it’s a great thing to give back to the community,” said store owner Doug MacMillan, who was with his wife Lorraine. “We also get involved because it’s the right thing to do, people need help and we need to help people.
“Pen High has been fantastic, the Leadership group has taken on the role. Hopefully, it will just grow from today and keep getting stronger and stronger.”