A guest at last year’s Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive drops off some gifts for the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program.

Caring for Kids at Christmas: Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive set for Nov. 30 in Parksville

The annual breakfast event is from 6:30-10:30 a.m. on Wednesday

LISSA ALEXANDER

Special to The NEWS

The Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive has become a tradition for many people, and for at least one resident, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until the event has taken place.

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas can even begin until the Toy Drive is over,” said Aneilla Veselisin.

Veselisin is a hairstylist at Tigh-Na-Mara’s Grotto Spa, and four years ago she created her own fundraiser to benefit the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program. It’s called Kids Cuts for Charity, where kids can get their hair cut for $25, and all the proceeds are donated to the program.

That event just wrapped up this week and Veselisin will present a cheque to SOS at the Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive on Nov. 30. She volunteers at the event every year and said she loves everything about it.

“Everybody is in a great mood… it’s just all about giving and it shows the community is so caring,” she said.

Kids Cuts for Charity has raised over $2,500 to date for the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program.

This is the eighth annual Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive, where people can bring a new, unwrapped gift, monetary donation or gift card and receive a complimentary, buffet breakfast. The event benefits the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program, helping to fill the shelves of the SOS Toys Shop where low-income parents and grandparents shop for their children for free. The program also provides local grocery store gifts cards to families and individuals at Christmas.

The Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive takes place from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30. There is a drive-through breakfast and toy drop-off available from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. This year there is a great need for gifts for boys and girls in the age groups 10-13 and 14-18.

Another cheque that will be presented to SOS is from Bill Dent of VI Curb Appeal. Dent approached Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond recently and said he’d like to contribute to the Toy Drive event.

“It’s just a good cause,” Dent said. “And often they get lots of good toys at the event but not a lot of cash.”

Dent’s company does exterior cleaning on houses and commercial properties. He did a promotion recently where people could get their gutters cleaned and make the cheques out directly to SOS. He was hoping to raise $1,000 and leading up to the event, he had already cleared $1,500.

Drummond said the Toy Drive gets bigger every year.

“From a community standpoint, it’s really caught on, that whole idea of giving.”

Drummond said it has become a social event where people come together, enjoy each other’s company and do something they feel good about.

The staff at Tigh-Na-Mara have also embraced the event, and although Drummond said he gets calls from residents asking how they can volunteer, those roles are coveted by his staff.

“They absolutely look forward to it,” he said.

Last year the Toy Drive collected 1,536 gifts, $6,373 in monetary donations and $3,815 in gift cards. Drummond said he hopes to get a little bit more for SOS this year, as well as some more items for the Salvation Army Food Bank, but he’s excited about whatever the community is able to give.

“I think overall there’s this buzz, this hum, this warmth and spirit throughout the whole morning,” he said. “If the community can come together and generate a little bit more than what we generated last year, then that would be awesome, but even if we don’t, that’s okay, because it’s such a cool community giving event.”

Tigh-Na-Mara is located at 1155 Resort Drive in Parksville. For more on the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program visit www.sosd69.com.

— Lissa Alexander is the marketing co-ordinator at SOS.

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