Leah Smith at her annual holiday toy drive, Dec. 2017. (Leah Smith)

Oak Bay teen targets 1,000 toys

Toy drive for Stan Hagen Centre For Families is Dec. 15 and 16 on Oak Bay Avenue

Oak Bay teen Leah Smith hopes to hit a toy milestone this weekend.

Her annual toy drive for the Stan Hagen Centre For Families is Dec. 15 and 16. After falling short last year, she hopes to gather 1,000 toys over just two days.

LAST YEAR: One girl toy drive hits Oak Bay Avenue this weekend

Last year’s drive saw her donating almost 800.

“It pretty much filled my entire basement,” Smith said.

After collecting all the toys, Smith takes them home and sorts through them while watching Christmas movies. Because her toy drive also accepts gently used toys, she likes to go through them to make sure they’re not — as she puts it — completely used.

“We’ve only had one or two of those every year,” she said. “99.9 percent are great to be donated.”

The hard part is getting the toys to the Stan Hagen Centre. Somehow, Smith and her family managed to take all the toys that filled their basement, and pack them into two family cars.

“It was one trip, but it was to the point where the entire car was full. You couldn’t see out the back, and sitting in the passenger seat I had two giant garbage bags full of toys just sitting on my lap,” Smith remembered with a laugh. “This year I’m hoping it will be two trips, just to show how much progress there’s been.”

When she first attempted a toy drive she was in grade 6. It didn’t go well.

“We had like five toys in total. Then in Grade 8, I thought I could try it again and just revamp the whole drive.”

Fast forward a few years and Smith—who is now in grade 12 at Oak Bay High—has grown her toy drive from five items into an Oak Bay holiday staple.

“It was just really to help families that are in different circumstances. I know especially the holiday season can be a really financially strenuous situation for many families. Providing any form of relief is just something that I feel like is just a good thing to do, especially during the holiday season because that’s when a lot of people are in a giving mood.”

READ MORE: Youths host sport swap to make athletics accessible in Victoria

Smith encourages people to bring items that don’t always pop in mind when we think of toy drives.

“It’s not as exciting to think about a teenager unwrapping a toy compared to a three-year-old who’s opening their favourite stuffed animal,” Smith explained. “For teens some of the best stuff includes sports equipment; soccer balls, basketball nets, that sort of stuff is really great. As well as gift cards. Evidently, I say its a toy drive, but we still do take other gift ideas.”

She noted that even small things like cosmetics could be great for teens.

The toy drive runs Dec. 15 and 16 from noon to 4 p.m. in front of Oak Bay Pharmasave, 2200 Oak Bay Ave.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

One of the two vehicles the Smiths used to transport collected toys to the Stan Hagen Centre For Families in 2017. (Leah Smith)

Leah Smith at her annual holiday toy drive, Dec. 2017 (Leah Smith)

Leah Smith surrounded by collected toys, Dec. 2017. (Leah Smith)

Just Posted

Mass-timber project in Esquimalt switches from condos to rentals

Corvette Landing will now offer rental units in the area

Improperly transporting a pet in the back of the truck can cost up to $368

Police recommend keeping all animals inside the passenger portion of the vehicle

VIDEO: Royals squashed by Giants in 6–2 loss

Victoria will leave for six-game road trip, returns home Feb. 7

Minister of state promises to look into closure of North Saanich child-care program

Closure of Beacon’s Nature Club affected two dozen families

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Most Read