Toy Mountain brings Christmas to Winnipeg’s less fortunate

by Prairie
Categories: Prairie News
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Winnipeg, MB – Julieen Keeley lives in Winnipeg’s Logan-C.P.R neighbourhood with her 8-year-old daughter Jessica. Just a block away from The Salvation Army’s Weetamah corps where Jessica attends Kids Club events every Thursday evening. Like most girls her age, Jessica loves reading and doing crafts. She’s excited for Christmas and hopes to get a Monster High doll from Santa Claus. Unfortunately, Julieen cannot afford what most of us take for granted. However, The Salvation Army is working to make sure every child in need has a gift and a smile this Christmas.

The Salvation Army has partnered with CTV, Scotiabank, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Police Service to launch the 2013 Toy Mountain campaign. Through Toy Mountain, the Army intends to place Christmas gifts into the hands of underprivileged children across Winnipeg. This is no small task. Last year’s campaign collected over 15,000 toys, and this year, the need is even greater.

Inside Toy Mountain

The registration process begins when a parent places a call to The Salvation Army. An appointment is made for the family to sit down with a staff person to discuss their need and how it relates to their current financial situation. For some this is difficult, and leaves them feeling quite vulnerable. Volunteers and staff at The Salvation Army understand this and go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable. When asked how she and Jessica have been welcomed by the Army, Julieen’s eyes water: “It’s so good to see the same faces each year. I leave Weetamah in tears of joy, wanting to do whatever I can to help my neighbours.”

To anyone who may be hesitant to register, Julieen offers encouragement, “Think of your children. Hold your head up and apply. Remember, it’s not a hand out, but a hand up.”

After a family has been approved for assistance a second appointment is booked between December 12–19 for the parent(s) to visit Santa’s Toy Shop. Here they are helped by a volunteer “elf” as they hand-pick items for their children. Each child is entitled to a large and small toy, a stuffed animal, knitted hats, gloves and scarves, a book and assorted stocking stuffers. Parents are given the opportunity to shop for their children thereby promoting independence and fostering dignity. Parents do not receive a standard, one size fits all care package, but rather they have the opportunity to choose something they know their children will want and appreciate. This is just one of the ways The Salvation Army fosters dignity for those in need.

Working Together

The Salvation Army cannot do this alone. Through the generosity of Winnipeggers, The Salvation Army can help ensure no child goes without at Christmas. Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be delivered to any Winnipeg Police or Fire Paramedic station, or Scotiabank locations across the city. Monetary donations are also being accepted online or by calling (204) 975-1033.

Christmas is a time to share the gift of joy with others. Especially those who have little joy to share themselves. Despite having little herself, Julieen is quick to consider those less fortunate “It’s hard enough for me with one child,” she says “my heart goes out to those with 3-4 children to care for.” If each of us had Julieen’s compassionate spirit, no child would go without this Christmas.

Take a peek inside Toy Mountain