Volunteers came together at the Sikh Academy in Newton Saturday (Dec. 15) to wrap thousands of toys for children in need this Christmas.
Toys for Kids, a campaign by the Sikh Academy Elementary and Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen in New Westminster, rallied the Sikh community to collect and donate toys for children in needs. The toys collected will go to organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Family and New Westminster Family Place.
Paul Hundle, the event co-ordinator, told the Now-Leader there were between 2,000 and 2,500 toys collected this year for the campaign.
Now in its sixth year, Hundle said, Toys for Kids probably collected between 1,000 and 1,500 toys in its first year, “but it’s been growing every year.”
About 200 volunteers came out to the Sikh Academy Elementary in Newton on Saturday.
In a news release leading up to the event, Hundle said, “Sikhs believe in “Sarbat Da Bhala”, meaning caring for all. It’s important during the Christmas season, to think of those less fortunate and make their Christmas much brighter”.
There were several tables set up to organize the gifts into gift-wrapped boxes. Volunteers organized the toys by age groups, and then each table filled boxes with the toys based on lists from the benefitting organizations.
Hundle said about 20 organizations would be benefitting from the toy drive this year.
“What we do is basically we get lists from the community, like schools, other organizations like Surrey Women’s Centre, some shelters, New (Westminster) Family Place and what we do is we gather the lists, figure out what type of toys they need for their people that they’re serving.”
Planning for the toy drive, Hundle said, begins at the beginning of October, with a call out to the community for donations following.
“We go to the community, ask for donations. We gather the donations, we gather the people that want the toys, bring them all together and then the toys are collected by this community groups,” he said.
This toy drive, Hundle said, would not be possible without the help of the greater community “because one person cannot do it all.”
Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, according to the release, operates monthly, weekly and special programs during the year, serving 3,500 meals every month, along with donating clothing and other items to residents in need who live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.