Each year Leah Smith stuns the volunteers at the Stan Hagen Centre For Families.
Grade 11 student at Oak Bay High operates a one-girl toy drive – a weekend in December spent sitting outside on Oak Bay Avenue – that grows exponentially each year.
In 2015 she gathered about 500 items, and last year garnered 600 to 700 new or gently used toys and gifts so it comes as no surprise that the goal this year, is 1,000.
Every year she brings them by the Stan Hagen Centre toy shop. “They’re always so surprised,” she says, of the carloads of goodies.
There, parents who can’t afford presents sign up and are able choose gifts for each child.
“They get the sense of not getting charity, but choosing for themselves,” Leah said.
Now in her fourth year, she heads out to The Ave to collect new and gently used toys and clothing this weekend.
“People don’t always know what to get teens,” Leah explains. “Stuffies are always good… and gift cards are great. It gives them that sense of financial freedom.”
She also recommends clothing or comfort items like socks.
“I know I like to get clothing for Christmas,” Leah said.
Leah collects outside Pharmasave on Oak Bay Avenue on Dec. 16 and 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. each day.
“I’ve had people come back for the third or fourth year,” she said.
It’s a good thing her pile of donations courtesy Oak Bay residents grows, Leah says.
“Every year the need grows.”
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