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Drive to collect 1,000 toys for kids begins for Penticton students

Holiday-themed Toys for Tots event runs on Dec. 7, at Penticton Secondary
Penticton Secondary leadership students on Nov. 29, 2023, ahead of the Toys For Tots holiday fundraiser. From left to right: Sabine Teo, Spencer McRann, Annika Neill and Karoleena Goodjohn.

By the community, for the community.

It’s a phrase that has stuck with four leadership students at Penticton Secondary ahead of Toys For Tots 2023, one of the school’s flagship fundraisers that aims to give every local kid a holiday season they’ll never forget.

Annika Neill, Karoleena Goodjohn, Sabine Teo and Spencer McRann are at the front and centre of this year’s campaign, which will culminate with a community-wide event on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 7.

The goal is simple: collect at least 1,000 unused toys for kids aged 0 to 18.

“It’s nice to give back during the holidays,” said Goodjohn, a Grade 12 student.

“But it’s not just about collecting toys,” added Neill, who is also in Grade 12 and remembers attending the event every year when it was held at the Lakeside Resort. “It’s also about having people from our community at the school that day, and giving everyone the chance to get into the holiday spirit.”

Fundraising efforts for this year’s Toys for Tots event date back to February. Making phone calls to local businesses and booking live entertainment acts are just some of the day-to-day tasks students have completed, they said.

“It’s been a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” said McRann, a fellow high school senior of his aforementioned classmates. “Almost daily…emails to send, sponsors to talk to.”

And if sending those emails and making those calls to potential donors was a test, the students appear to be passing with flying colours.

“It’s amazing to see how many people are eager to help,” said Teo, who is in Grade 11. “If you just ask, they’re more than willing to support an initiative like this.”

City councillors and members of the Penticton Vees are among those set to attend the event, which will include breakfast for people who donate new or unopened toys. Monetary donations and gift cards will also be accepted.

“A huge part of this is community outreach,” Goodjohn explained. “And it’s really nice getting in contact with people and making those connections.”

The event on Dec. 7, will run from 7 to 11 a.m. Admission is by donation.

People are also encouraged to place their toy donations in bins at local grocery stores and Canadian Tire before the event.

For those who can’t attend the breakfast, there will be a drive-thru area outside the school.

The Toys For Tots event follows the annual 10,000 Tonight initiative, a joint effort between Penticton Secondary and Princess Margaret Secondary in support of the local Salvation Army food bank. Close to 14,000 non-perishable items were collected thanks to the efforts of leadership students from both schools.

Neill was at the forefront of that holiday-themed campaign, too.

“It’s so nice to see the impact that can be made,” Neill said.

READ MORE: Penticton leadership students collect 13,600 items for local food bank

About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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