Lakers and United Native Friendship Centre to host annual Christmas toy drive

Staff Writer
Natali Trivuncic

Whether it’s the new Lego set or the latest Spiderman action figure, toys top most children’s Christmas list. But not all are so fortunate to receive them.

On Friday Dec. 4, the Fort Frances Lakers and the United Native Friendship Centre (UNFC) hope to rectify that, with their annual toy drive for the Adopt-a-Family program.

For the last 10 years, the Lakers have been hosting the toy drive at their home game, but because of delays to the season caused by the pandemic and spectators not being allowed in the arena, the toy drive will be held in the parking lot at the UNFC Circle of Life Centre located at 616 Mowat Ave. Players from the Lakers will be accepting donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Attendees are able to drive by and hand in their toy donations, or they can park and walk over where they can chat with some of the players.

All of the toy donations will go towards the Adopt-a-Family program at the friendship centre.

Families are referred by UNFC program workers to the Adopt-a-Family program through its Homelessness Outreach program. The families are then matched with community organizations and citizens, who want to adopt a family.

When a family is adopted, their identity is kept anonymous. General information about the number of individuals in the family, their ages and genders are given to the adoptee in order for them to get a sense of what to include in the donation hamper.

Melanie McPherson, executive assistant for the UNFC, said because of the pandemic they will only be accepting donations of new and unwrapped toys excluding plush toys and stuffed animals.

McPherson adds that this protocol has been put into place so they can sanitize the toys before distributing them in the hampers.

McPherson says the number of families that need adopting varies, but adds that the number of families is continuing to rise because the Homelessness Outreach worker is still taking referrals.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic going on right now there are a lot of families, more families that are struggling more because of reduced hours in their employment or being laid off from their employment,” McPherson said.

Despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, McPherson said they are going to try to keep the event light and positive.

She adds that if people cannot make it to the toy drive or cannot adopt a family, the UNFC is also accepting monetary donations towards the Adopt-a-Family program or the Food Bank.

The UNFC asks that all those planning to attend the toy drive to wear their masks and social distance.