Special to The NEWS
Last Christmas, a kind stranger in our community donated a big, Tonka fire truck to a child he/she has likely never met.
Perhaps it was one of the first toys to be dropped off at the annual Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive Breakfast; perhaps it was one of the last. It may have come from a family with many children, from a single person, or from a childless couple wanting to share Christmas with a child in the community.
No one can tell who it came from, or what motivated them to give. But soon the truck was nestled in with hundreds of other toys at the SOS Toy Shop, amid the tinsel and the lights, waiting until it was chosen as a special gift for a little boy or a girl.
That moment came in mid-December last year, when Stephanie and her husband came to the Toy Shop at Society of Organized Services for the first time. The couple had moved to the area from Yellowknife in 2007 because “we knew this was a great community to raise children, and we were ready to start a family,” says Stephanie.
With savings in the bank, and a bucketful of optimism, she left her accounting job, and the couple moved here to start their new life. It wasn’t long before their first son Liam was born, followed three years later by their second son, Connor. While Stephanie stayed home with her boys, her husband kept working at whatever job he could find, during one of the worse economic crunches the area has ever seen.
Stephanie had been coming to SOS, attending various programs for young parents and toddlers since the boys were babies, but it wasn’t until Christmas 2012 that the young family accessed the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas Program.
“I didn’t want to at first,” Stephanie explains, holding back tears. “I was embarrassed, and it’s hard to think about people who need it more than we do. You go through all the feelings — it’s very hard.”
Her husband is still working, but their savings are gone. And without any family in the area, Stephanie says the people at SOS have become like a family to them.
“I can’t believe the community has put so much into this. I really don’t know what we would have done without them. When we left here (the SOS Toy Shop) last year, we had stuffed animals, a book for each of my sons and this amazing Tonka fire truck with all the bells and whistles.
“It was such a warm feeling. I felt like Santa.”
Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort is asking the community: “If your child was to receive one gift, what would it be?” and inviting everyone to their fifth annual Toy Drive Breakfast, Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 6:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Anyone who brings a new, unwrapped toy receives a free breakfast. They even have a drive-through drop off from 7:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. Although any gifts are gratefully appreciated, this year there is a strong need for gifts for youth ages 10-17.
Who knows? Your gift might be the one gift that makes a parent feel like Santa this year.