A treasury of toys is being held in a small basement room at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and being managed by three retired bank tellers.
Kathy Janzen, Wendy Schindel and Maxine Millis first became involved with the Summerland Fire Department’s fundraiser, Toys and Toonies for Tots to Teens, back in the late 1990s.
They were working for CIBC at the time and it was something all the bank staff had decided to support.
Since that time they have all three retired and taken over care and control of the operation because they say they have a good system and it works.
The bank continues to provide a room for them. Shelves have been built and labelled in order to store and organize the toys.
“When we were working here, if you ever needed an uplifting experience you’d just run downstairs and rearrange some toys and it just made you feel better.” Janzen said.
Throughout the year the firefighters organize events in order to raise cash and collect toys. Many businesses and organizations, schools and other banks all contribute to the cause.
“It’s a very generous community. We wouldn’t be able to do this if we weren’t given all this stuff,” said Janzen.
Once the toys and cash are collected, the firefighters deliver it to the ladies and they then proceed to sort the items and place them on the shelves.
In November a form is sent out to the families that the Food Bank serves. The forms are filled in specifying the age and gender of each child and what that child would like for gifts. They are allotted one main gift and several stocking stuffers.
The ladies then proceed to fill the requests, drawing from the shelves and going shopping with the cash for items that they do not have in stock.
The bags of gifts are then taken to the Food Bank and given out to the families in time for Christmas.
When asked as to why they continue to volunteer their time in this way, Janzen said,
“Oh because it makes you feel so good and it’s fun. It’s very rewarding.”
Schindel added, “When you see those families coming, they’re so grateful. Some of them are crying they are just so thankful. It really gets you in the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of giving.”
“It makes you feel good that those kids are going to have a nice Christmas,” Millis said.
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