Northwestel and the Whitehorse Firefighters Charitable Society have launched their annual holiday toy drive.
Between Nov. 14 and Dec. 11, toy donations are being collected at Northwestel’s retail store on Second Avenue in downtown Whitehorse for the Share the Spirit campaign.
Share the Spirit benefits 500 families and approximately 1,000 children across the territory during the holiday season.
Northwestel president Curtis Shaw said everyone is invited to drop off a new unwrapped gift for a child or teenager at the store.
“We are hoping that these boxes will help as many kids in our community as possible,” he said during a Nov. 15 press conference for the campaign. “I know a lot of people will think about children but I will also encourage you to think about the older kids and teenagers because they need gifts as well.”
Northwestel made an additional donation of $5,000 to the campaign.
Shaw told the News the toy drive has been going on for almost a decade and noted Northwestel is proud to continue the holiday tradition with their partners.
“Bring a toy and share the joy,” he said.
Whitehorse Firefighters Charitable Society president Nicholas O’Carroll said the drive is a partnership between Northwestel, the Yukon government, First Nations and private businesses.
“Sometimes you have problems in society that are too big. We like to think that the government can take care of everything but that is not always the case for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you need the co-operation of your community,” he said.
“We all play a key role in trying to help to identify these families, to help them out and show that we care, especially for families that are struggling for a variety of reasons. This is our commitment of trying to help as much as we can for our community. We can’t thank all the groups enough for what you have done in helping us achieve this.”
Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn said the launch is an “exciting and joyful time of the year where we all get to share in the holiday spirit and think of ways we can give back to others.”
Mostyn said over the past several years, Northwestel and the firefighters charity have done an amazing job of organizing the toy drive campaign and helping families all over the territory.
“Their hard work and dedication put gifts under trees and put food on the table, making sure families have what they need to celebrate the holiday season together.”
He encouraged everyone to participate and share in the toy drive in the way that it works for them whether by donating toys or volunteering.
“Northwestel has done a tremendous job here. Together we can make this a happy holiday season for everyone.”
Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott said the toy drive is one of her favourite events in the territory.
“This is always the start of the season and it’s always wonderful doing these events here in Whitehorse,” Cabott said. “It’s amazing what Northwestel is doing and I’m sure every kid that needs a toy is probably going to get one because of what you do.”
Ta’an Kwäch’än Council deputy chief Kristina Kane said the initiative is one of the community’s most important fundraisers, adding that the toy drive has brought joy to hundreds of children over the years.
She explained that many families in the Yukon face daily struggles.
“Struggling to keep up with day-to-day costs has been a reality for many families,” she said.
Kane said the initiative wouldn’t be possible without its key sponsors.
“Now more than ever our communities need your help. If we can bring a smile for one child this year then we have accomplished our goals. Donations will go a long way in making this Christmas a little bit special.”
Kwanlin Dün Chief Sean Smith said holidays are a special time to connect with friends and families and also a time to share happiness.
“I’m happy to see everyone come together to make a difference in the lives of Yukon children. For an adult, a toy can be just a toy, but to a child it can be a key to another universe, a time machine to the past or a window to another dimension. When children play, it stimulates their imagination, which opens up creativity in each and every child. Our children are our future and the next generation of leaders and we are here to hold them up as a community.”
Financial donations for the drive can also be made by visiting afterthefireisout.com
Contact Patrick Egwu at firstname.lastname@example.org