It’s that time of year again, when the people of Fort Frances can help ensure every child in need gets a new toy for Christmas.
As part of their annual tradition, the Salvation Army and 93.1 The Border joined forces to hold the 93.1 The Border Toy Drive from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, which asked the public to bring in new, unwrapped toys to be given to children in the district for the holidays.
Salvation Army Fort Frances corps officer Arthur Heathcote split his time between being on air with the radio station and being at the Salvation Army’s new location on 242 Scott Street on Saturday. As of around 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, the Salvation Army had created a good-sized pile of donated toys, and Heathcote noted there was plenty of time left in the day and in the campaign for members of the public to continue to donate.
Heathcote noted the donations are an extra to help round out the other offerings the Salvation Army takes on each Christmas season.
“The toy drive helps us be able to manage the Christmas lists for all of the hampers we’re going to be doing this coming Christmas,” he explained. “So, we’ve been looking to the community to help and purchase new, unwrapped toys for children. As you can see here, we’ve got lots of different age groups that have been represented, so we’re very happy with the community’s support this year.”
The event was a placeholder for the usual Burst-A-Bus event, which has been put on hold the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the goodwill of the two organizations led them to hold the Toy Drive to accomplish the same purpose in a COVID-safe manner, both last year and again in 2021. The Salvation Army has also had to work to manage the event at the tail end of moving to a new location, which Heathcote said is going to put them in a great position for next year’s event.
“It puts us a little bit more in the heart of downtown, which is really, really great,” he said.
“It also gets us a lot closer to the Burst-A-Bus location for next year, so we’ll be able to go across the street with the bus, hopefully, next year once the health restrictions lift and we’re able to do the event again.”
Heathcote explained being able to include new toys in the Christmas hampers the Salvation Army gives out each year makes an incredible difference for parents on the receiving end.
“For many, it’s a peaceful night’s sleep,” he said. “Knowing their children have been provided for and have received some quality gifts under the tree, they sleep well.”
“I think the warm weather has distracted a few people today, but nonetheless we’re so pleased and so blessed with the gifts that we’ve received,” he said.
“There’s still lots more time to come and donate. I welcome anyone to come down when they can. They can drop off toys here right straight through until about December 17,” said Heathcote. “Even after today, we’ll still take toys. We do have last minute applications that come in, and we make sure that every single child gets a toy this year for Christmas.”