UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.
A fire truck’s sirens were howling at Canadian Tire Friday afternoon, as firefighters made an emergency drop-off of dozens of toys for the Toys for Tots to Teens.
Canadian Tire was taking more donations in the afternoon, following the morning event at Cascades Casinos, including a large haul brought in by firefighters in an antique fire truck.
“For anybody that couldn’t make it to the breakfast are now coming here this afternoon and dropping off a toy for those in need here in town,” said Canadian Tire owner Lorraine MacMillan.
“Some people just can’t make it between seven and nine in the morning, so having that extra drop-off time, it brings a lot more.”
The toys brought out by the firefighters overloaded the bin Canadian Tire had set aside, and staff had to bring out an extra shopping cart to hold all of the toys — MacMillan said the turnout was “phenomenal.”
“There’s been so many in the community, IGA, Tim Horton’s, the firefighters. Murray’s GM just offered us $2,500 to buy,” she said. “We put aside $8,000 and supporting everything went to about 15 organization, and we still haven’t filled the Salvation Army’s needs, so that’s where we come and get a list from the Salvation Army.”
The Salvation Army details the number of children they still need to provide toys for, along with ages and genders.
“I have Pen High leadership coming in, and there’s about 30 kids and I give them a list, and we go through all of this, what’s been donated, and then anything that we can’t fulfill the need (with the donated toys), we go into the store and we buy it,” MacMillan said, adding other stores have given helpful discounts to fill the list.
It’s not just toys, however, that the kids are asking for.
“One little boy last year wanted a pair of jeans. We had kids asking for socks, which breaks my heart,” MacMillan said.
“It’s not all about a toy. They want something new.”
Hundreds came through the welcoming doors of Cascades Casino Friday morning bearing gifts for those who otherwise might not have any this Christmas.
And that was just the first wave, the second donation site of the day is at Canadian tire from 2 to 6 p.m. which will kick off with the arrival of the Penticton firefighters local’s vintage 1957 No. 5 truck.
“We took the truck shopping yesterday with a bunch of off duty firefighters and there were a lot of smiles and we got a bunch of toys and loaded them into the truck and that’s what we’re going to bring down today,” said firefighter Kevin Zazzara, Friday morning at the casino welcoming those who came to donate.
The annual event has been going on for nearly three decades, and for everyone who donated a toy there was a free breakfast with entertainment waiting in Cascades’ Match restaurant.
“We’re here today to support the Toys for Tots to Teens drive I think it’s a very worthy cause,” said Milly Hunt who was with her friend Marion Adams with armloads of toys each. “I think for a little bit of fun and you get a free breakfast and it supports the community.”
Hosting the event this year was a very special privilege from Cascades general manager Michael Magnusson.
“This is really important not only for us but the entire city, this makes sure that no child on Christmas morning of whatever faith a family might be has a toy,” said Magnusson. “It also allows others to have that satisfaction, that great feeling inside to give. We want to make sure that the village is helping to raise children not just the individual.”