There are few things more likely to make the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes than watching a child’s eyes glisten as they open the gift of a toy on Christmas morning.
And for parents, there are few things more fitting in the weeks leading up to Christmas than a stroll through a toy shop to choose just the right gift for their child. That’s why for 35 years the Salvation Army has set up a Christmas toy shop where parents who need a little help can walk the aisles and pick out the perfect gift for their little one.
“The Toy Shop is a magical place,” Salvation Army spokesperson Kyla Ferns said. “It’s so special to watch the faces of parents as they choose the perfect toys for their children.”
The gifts are given to the parents without charge so that poverty does not stand in the way of a child’s merry Christmas.
“The Salvation Army is all about dignity and hope,” program coordinator Pat Humble said. “That’s why we do it this way. The parents can go shopping and take the time to choose the right gift for their child, and it is just like shopping, except that they don’t need to pay.”
This year, the program is funded, in part, by Black Press’ annual Pennies for Presents fundraiser. The campaign has run for 15 years and involves the collection of change and other money at the Black Press office at 818 Broughton St. There are also collection boxes placed in businesses throughout Greater Victoria.
“The campaign is very important to us,” Black Press editorial director Kevin Laird said. “This is our chance to give back to our community.”
Last year’s campaign raised more than $14,000 that was divided among five local organizations. Funds from this year’s campaign will be divided between the Salvation Army and the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.
“We have other campaigns, like our Angel Tag initiative where people can buy toys for the age and gender of their choice, but we find in that program, most people like to buy for small children,” he said. “Pennies for Presents lets us buy those gifts for age groups that are more challenging to accommodate. Older kids and teenagers need presents, too.”
Last year the Salvation Army toy shop gave out more than 5,200 toys to more than 900 children. The Stan Hagen Centre, located at Quadra Street and Hillside Avenue, where the toy shop is located, also helped needy families with more than 1,300 food hampers.
Information on the Stan Hagen Centre can be found at salvationarmycfs.com.
Donations to the Pennies for Presents Campaign can be dropped off during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays) throughout December or at any of the following businesses.
Mayfair Flower Shop – Suite 158-2945 Jacklin Rd Langford
Quality Cobbler – Suite 140-2945 Jacklin Rd Langford
Corona Foods – 2155 Sooke Rd
Dodds Furniture – 715 Finlayson Street Victoria
Heirloom Linens – #380-777 Royal Oak Drive
Red Barn Market – 751 Vanalman Avenue, Victoria
Red Barn Market – 5550 West Saanich Road, Victoria
Red Barn Market – 5325 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria
Peppers Foods – 3829 Cadboro Bay Road, Saanich
Oak Bay Pharmasave – 2200 Oak Bay Ave. Oak Bay
Salon Modello – 2590 Cadboro Bay Road
Slater’s Meats – 2577 Cadboro Bay Rd, Oak Bay
Verico Select Mortgage – 105-1497 Admirals Rd, Victoria
Verico Select Mortgage Westshore – 3212 Jacklin Road
Verico Select Mortgage – 1925 Oak Bay Avenue
Verico Select Mortgage – Suite 110-4460 Chatterton Way
Brick Langford – Suite 500-2945 Jacklin Rd
Capital Iron – 1900 Store Street Victoria
4Cats Art Studio – 2279 Bowker Avenue
Standard Furniture – 758 Cloverdale Ave
Feys+Hobbs Canteen – 2249 Oak Bay Ave.
Goldstream Food Market – 976 Goldstream Ave.