The Archway Toys for Tots event on Friday (Nov. 26) collected more than 1,500 toys and $24,000 for gifts for children, youth and seniors.
The event was initially planned for the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre but was moved to Abbotsford Centre due to flooding at the hotel, which is located on North Parallel Way.
“We weren’t sure how the turnout would be with the ongoing flooding, new location and new format, but once again we were amazed at how many people took the time to purchase and drop off a toy so others could have a better Christmas,” said Rebecca Thuro, a supervisor at the Archway Food Bank.
The rain held off for the entire drive-thru event and the sun even came out for most of the day.
“During a very difficult time for our community, it was a literal ray of sunshine,” said Rod Santiago, the Archway executive director. “This event will go a long way in helping out more than 850 households, which is already 228 more families than in 2020.”
Event organizer Patricia Driessen said the Canucks organization was “aso amazing to work with.”
“They made the new location work on short notice and even provided 600 breakfast burritos so we could still offer a breakfast to-go,” she said.
The event included appearances throughout the day by the Ever After Snow Princesses, the MEI Chamber Singers, the Screaming Eagles Marching Band, and Santa.
Volunteers from sponsors Envision Financial and Longboard Architectural Products helped organize the growing toy pile throughout the day, and the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service and BC Paramedics helped collect donations from the cars.
After the event, the toys were brought to the Archway Christmas Bureau, which is being hosted gthis year by Sevenoaks Alliance Church.
In addition to the free toy shop and Christmas hampers, some families and seniors are matched with individuals and groups in the community who provide gifts and holiday food directly to the household.
“No matter what challenges someone is facing – from flooding, to COVID, loss of a job or illness – we want to make sure people know that others care about them at Christmas and throughout the year,” Santiago said.
Gifts can still be dropped off at the food bank at 33914 Essendene Ave. or one of the drop-off locations listed at AbbyToysForTots.com.
Those in need of help can contact the Archway Food Bank at 604-859-7814 or register online at AbbotsfordFoodBank.com/need-food/#Christmas