Partnerships to create extra cheer for families this Christmas
© Bonnie Learning photo
Some very dedicated individuals are helping to make Christmas a bit brighter for those less fortunate in the community this year, as they prepared hundreds of toys for distribution to the Roland Shears Memorial Christmas Hamper program. The Bargain Store was a big contributor, having held a toy drive for the last 2 ½ weeks at their store in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where members of the general public generously purchased over $10,000 worth of toys. Taking part in the toy drop off were, from left: Trevor Earle, supervisor, Bargain Store; Mike Norris, assistant manager, Bargain Store; Paula Dawe, Roland Shears Memorial Christmas Hamper Committee; Paul White, manager, Bargain Store; Hope Sheppard, Community Outreach Worker, Labrador Friendship Centre; Katherine Hope, Community Outreach Assistant, Labrador Friendship Centre; and Pastor Jonathan Beers, Northern Cross Church.
It was a wildly successful toy drive beyond anyone’s expectations.
In just two-and-a-half weeks, The Bargain Store in Happy Valley-Goose Bay collected a whopping 905 toys — totaling $10,143.76.
The toys — which were available for purchase at the store — were bought and donated by members of the general public.
“Without the support of this community, we could never do something like this,” said Paul White, manager at The Bargain Store, adding Snelgrove’s and Nor Lab also came on board for the toy drive.
“We had a basket of items at the checkout and would ask if anyone was interested in buying an item to donate; one day, a woman bought the entire basketful of items, valued at $145.”
White noted this is the first time his store has ever held this kind of event — but it certainly won’t be the last.
“The community supports us, and we want to put that support back into the community,” he said. “With the generosity of our staff and our customers, we were able to do that.”
White also donated a $500 Bargain Store gift card that will go towards the purchase of such items as batteries for toys, or any extra items that may be needed.
The toys collected will be included in the Roland Shears Memorial Christmas Hampers — which is spearheaded by a local committee — in partnership with the Lake Melville Ministerial Association and Labrador Friendship Centre.
“This (toy drive) is so timely,” said Hope Sheppard, Community Outreach Worker at the Labrador Friendship Centre.
“I am overwhelmed by the support of the community.”
Paula Dawe, a committee member with the Roland Shears Memorial Christmas Hamper program, agrees.
“This community is so generous,” she said. “That they would go out of their way to make sure no one is without Christmas dinner or children don’t go without toys, it’s just wonderful.”
Dawe noted in addition to the toys — which are also collected throughout the community through other initiatives — the local churches in the region also have a ‘warm-up tree,’ whereby people donate items such as mitts, hats, scarves, and socks.
“We try to get one of each of those items in the packages,” noted Dawe, noting she expects upwards of 300 hampers to be prepared this year.
She noted pajama’s that are collected through a local drive are also included in the hampers.
“We leave the pajama’s unwrapped, so the kids can wear them on Christmas Eve,” said Dawe.
Dawe noted getting everything ready to pass along to those in need is no easy task.
Next week, dozens of volunteers will be gathering at the Anglican Church to sort, wrap and pack the Christmas hampers with toy, fixings for Christmas dinner and a few extra groceries, to ensure a nice Christmas for everyone in the household.
“Without our volunteers, we would not be able to do anything,” said Dawe, who is one of the main coordinators for the sorting, wrapping, packing and delivering of the hampers.
Dawe noted once the hampers are delivered, extra hampers are on stand-by at the Labrador Friendship Centre up to and including Christmas Eve, should someone find themselves — or someone else — in need.
In addition to the hampers, gift bags are also delivered to residents residing in Newman’s apartments and Pine Lodge, to those who might not have family around.
They also drop off fruit baskets and toys to patients who find themselves having to stay in hospital over the holidays.
Anyone looking to volunteer with the Christmas Hamper project can contact Paula Dawe, Hope Sheppard at the LFC, or any church in the Upper Lake Melville area.