Mariners toy drive helps Salvation Army

Tina Comeau
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More toys still needed, however, to fill in gaps

By Tina Comeau



The Salvation Army says toys like the ones collected during a recent toy drive held by the Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners hockey team will be distributed to children in the area over the holidays and will help to fill in the gaps to ensure children needing toys at Christmas are not missed.

But, said Major Peter Rowe of the Yarmouth Salvation Army, they could still use more newly-purchased toys this week before hampers filled with toys, clothing and food are distributed to needy families.

“We have 450 children registered for Christmas,” said Rowe, who adds they’re doing well on the gifts front. “But one of the problems we run into each year is we put tags out to various locations (with the names and ages of children on them) and the tags disappear off the trees rather quickly, but not all of them come back.”

Which means toys for those particular children don’t end up being donated. This leaves a gap in the amount of children the Salvation Army needs to help and the number of toys it has to distribute.

Which is why Major Rowe was thrilled on Monday morning, Dec. 17, when the Mariners hockey team presented him with bags filled with newly-purchased toys that had been donated by the players and their fans as part of a toy drive that wrapped up on the weekend at the Mariners home games.

“These gifts fill in the gaps wonderfully,” said Rowe. “It helps us fill the areas where the tags left but never made their way back in the form of a gift.”

Major Rowe said on Monday that in addition to the 450 children that were registered, they were looking at possibly having to collect gifts for another 15 children whom they had only just found out about that morning.

Families in the area who require assistance at Christmas time can register with the Salvation Army for its Christmas hamper program. The public is then asked to provide assistance by donating an unwrapped toy, preferably new, for a child. This Wednesday evening, Dec. 19, a majority of the Christmas hampers will be filled for distribution to families in the region. It’s still not too late to contribute toys, said Rowe.

“People can drop off a toy right up until Wednesday because we'll be working late Wednesday night to make sure everything is finalized,” said Rowe. The Salvation Army is located at 103 Brunswick St.

The Mariners hockey club is happy it has been able to help children through its toy drive. Head coach Laurie Barron says the idea for the toy drive came from the players. 

“Once again we have proved that our fans have big hearts and our players have done a good job and we know that Peter will find a good home for all of these toys,” Barron said.

Mariners player Jared Hicks says it is overwhelming to hear that so many children are in need of assistance over the holidays. But, he said, it is good to see all of these families are being helped.

“Usually back home we’ll help one family. Where this is going out to a lot more families that’s really good, we’re really happy,” he said.

Mariners captain Rodney Mahoney agreed. He said his family back in Newfoundland often supports the Salvation Army during the year with donations of clothing. He was glad to see the support the Mariners received for their toy drive.

“I think it’s great. It really shows how everyone in Yarmouth comes out at Christmas time to help the less fortunate in the area,” Mahoney said. “When you have the fortunes that other people don’t have and at Christmas time and you help out, it’s really good”

Major Rowe said that if there are any toys left over in any given year after all of the hampers have been distributed, those toys continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.

“We have a proper storage area where we put them and then we use them throughout the year as well, in case there are fire victims, or camping programs or even schools that might need something,” he says. “So we utilize anything that’s left over all through the year.”

But the main concern, he said, is ensuring there are enough toys at Christmas for the children who need them.

Organizations: Mariners, The Salvation Army

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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