The people of Innisfil donated a mountain of food, toys, gift cards, and good cheer this weekend to make children’s holiday wishes come true.
The South Simcoe Police Service partnered with CTV Barrie for a Weekend of Giving on Dec. 2 in Bradford and Dec. 3 in Innisfil. The 18th annual Toy Mountain event supports local food banks and Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions.
Sgt. Steve Black said, “Right now, the local need is high. There’s a number of people that need assistance at this time of year. And we’re just out here trying our best to help as much as we can.”
“The last two years, the need is out there so much more than it was before, and the community is helping so much more than ever before,” Special constable Elisabeth Aschwanden said.
Members of the community braved the wind and rain to donate new, unwrapped toys, nonperishable food items, and gift cards at the Canadian Tire and Sobeys in Alcona. Sobeys made donating food convenient by pre-packaging nonperishable food in paper bags for $5. With one or more bags in hand, shoppers did not hesitate to give back to the community they know and love.
“The one thing that changes every year is the weather. Today, we’re stuck, of course, with a lot of rain. Something that’s consistent year after year for us, is the amount of giving,” Aschwanden said. “When you think that perhaps it might slow down, it really doesn’t. The community — giving and support — is everywhere. We saw it in Bradford, and I know we’re going to see it today in Innisfil. The rain will not stop the hearts and the giving. It doesn’t.”
The Innisfil Food Bank announced on social media that the community donated 2,405 pounds of food on Saturday.
“We really enjoy seeing our community members at holiday events. The annual Toy Mountain campaign is an opportunity where we all come together to put a smile on a child’s face with a special toy and give a Christmas celebration to a family in need. Thank you to our residents and businesses for your generous support. Together we truly can make a difference,” Acting Chief John Van Dyke said.
“Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions’ Holiday Program is in full swing between now and the end of December. Support from community members and businesses has increased and is essential to the success of our program. Everyone has been more than helpful, whether they sponsor family, donate items in bulk, make financial donations or organize toy drives. This program brings joy and seeing the community coming together to support the families and children we serve is wonderful and makes a big impact on them. The last two years also had a significant impact on all the families we serve, and we look for any opportunity to give back to them, the children, and the community,” said Jerome Ben Tolila, bilingual manager of communications and connections at Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions.
Caring for the community is an important legacy to pass on to Innisfil’s youth, and the effects are apparent. Aschwanden explained that children — even those as young as three years old! — are saying that they want to help others.
"The giving has always been there, but it’s that vocalizing it for little ones to fully understand what they’re doing — it was really nice," she said.
Those looking to donate can do so until Dec. 16.
Amber Green is a freelance reporter with Village Media.