Santa’s journey across the world was a little easier this year thanks to a local helper who dropped off dozens of gifts for children at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
For two years in a row, 12-year-old Keaton de Jonge has made a Christmas Eve pilgrimage to the hospital, carrying a giant red Santa sack filled with presents for kids who can’t go home for the holidays.
“It takes time, energy and spirit,” de Jonge says.
All year the Grade 7 student from Clayburn Middle School has been using his own money – no fundraisers, no donations – to buy toys .
He tries to keep the purchases under $5 each and picks up both a boy’s and girl’s toy at the same time to keep the genders even.
The one strict rule is that all the presents must be toys children can play with in bed. This means books, stuffed animals, dolls and action figures are the most common gifts de Jonge buys in the months leading up to the yuletide.
“Last year I didn’t know how many little kids can’t go home for Christmas, so I decided to get more presents (this year),” de Jong says.
Altogether, he lugged 37 gifts in his giant Santa bag to the pediatrics ward. He wasn’t able to hand-deliver the gifts, but de Jonge says he’s satisfied just knowing kids will be enjoying all the toys he bought for them.
He plans to continue buying gifts for next year until he fills his Santa bag to the brim once more.
It may seem too obvious an explanation, but de Jonge says he began this gift giveaway simply because he’d “rather give than receive.”