Hay Riverites turned out in droves last Saturday to make this year’s RCMP toy drive the most successful yet.
“It kinda got a little bigger than we had anticipated,” said Special Const. Steve Beck. “People have been so generous.”
The drive, which kicked off with a charity hockey game on Thursday night and continued with police and firefighters combing the streets collecting donations on Saturday afternoon. In all, about 500 toys were donated, along with more than $3,000 to go toward buying turkey dinners for families in Hay River and the surrounding area.
Beck explained the tradition started four years ago when the toy drive in Toronto netted more gifts than the city could handle. The Canadian military and RCMP worked together to get the surplus toys to communities across the North. Although there was no such shipment from the south in following years, detachments in the territories saw the need to keep the trend going.
“People were calling and asking about it, and we decided we would do what we could to help out,” Beck said.
He said that when people chose to give money instead of toys, the detachment came up with the plan to spend that money on turkey dinners for families. Last year, Hay River RCMP distributed more than 100 complete dinners to homes in the town, Fort Resolution and the Hay River Reserve as well, with help from Super A Foods.
This is the first year, however, that members of the detachment — joined by firefighters and corrections workers — played the younger divisions of minor hockey in a charity game for the toy drive. Close to $500 was collected Thursday night during the game, as well as dozens of toys.
“I really liked the game,” said minor hockey player Chase Beck. “It was really fun and I had a good time. It doesn’t matter who wins and who loses, as long as we all play and have fun together.”
Donations have swelled this year, with more likely on the way.
“I am so proud of my community for coming out and supporting our efforts this Christmas season,” said Lynne Buth, the drive’s organizer and detachment clerk. “Everyone has been so generous with their donations and their time.”