Toys for the North comes to Labrador for second straight year
© Derek Montague
Lisa Hutchings (Flight Coordinator) Hebbert Hynes (Engineer), Santa Claus, Tony Curlew (Pilot) Cpl. Rick Mills (RCMP), Safety Bear, and Sgt. Sandy Goudie (RCMP), were on hand at the RCMP hangar on December 5 to help get the toys unboxed and ready for wrapping.
Children living in some of the more isolated communities in Labrador will get an extra bit of Christmas cheer this year, thanks in large part to the RCMP.
For the second year in a row, the RCMP in the Big Land is involved in the ‘Toys for the North’ program, which delivers toys to boys and girls in Canada’s northern communities.
Cpl. Rick Mills has spearheaded the project for the RCMP in Labrador for both years.
“Last year was just phenomenal,” he said. “We delivered nearly 2,000 toys — or 2,000 smiles — to the children of Labrador,” said Mills.
“To go into the communities and have the toys delivered and watching the expressions on the children’s faces, it was just phenomenal. It was a great time for all of us at the RCMP.”
The joy all started this year on Dec. 5, when a Hercules airplane landed at 5 Wing Goose Bay — with a cargo of 2,000 toys, donated by the Canadian Toy Association — for the children of Labrador. Overall, the Toys for the North program delivered 7,500 gifts this year (valued at more than $100,000) to kids in this province, Manitoba, and Northern Ontario.
“There’s a lot on children in the north…that live in communities that are very inaccessible and they don’t have a lot in the communities,” says Mills.
“The RCMP, we work in most of the northern communities in Canada. So, it’s kind of a natural partnership.”
On the following Monday, Dec. 9, dozens of volunteers arrived at the RCMP hangar in 5 Wing Goose Bay, to wrap every single toy that was delivered on the Hercules.
After being wrapped, the gifts were to be flown out to several communities across Labrador, including Nain, Hopedale, and Natuashish, to name a few. Each community will decide the best way to hand out the gifts to their children.
There may have been a lot of gifts to wrap, but the volunteers were all smiles during the daunting task. Classic Christmas tunes blasted over the speakers as everyone worked together to get the toys ready for the eager children of Labrador.
“This is a real pleasure for me to be involved in this project,” said Gail Turner who volunteered to wrap for the first time this year. “I’m so happy for all the people who donated the time, the toys, the paper…it will bring great joy to the children of the coast to receive these gifts.”
“I just love everything about Christmas…I had my own wrapping done, so I need some more wrapping to do.”
Many of the people wrapping the gifts were also on board last year. It was so much fun the first time around, they never thought twice about coming back.
“We decided to volunteer our time today because this is a great cause for children and everyone,” said Jackie Mills, who volunteered for a second straight year.
“I think sometimes we lose the Christmas spirit. We get wrapped up too much in what we’re going to buy for our children and things like that. So I think this is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get out and take I doing something for someone else.”