By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
With the Christmas season comes toy and food drives, and the Durham Regional Police Service has started its 31st annual event.
The annual campaign was kicked off at Courtice North Public School in front of a crowd of children feeling the holiday cheer.
Children were given the chance to meet the biggest gift-giver himself, Santa Claus, after showing off their mountain of donated toys and non-perishable food.
They were also given the opportunity to listen as DRPS’s band The Heat performed holiday songs.
The Food and Toy Drive provides families in need in Durham Region with food and toys for the holiday season.
From now until Christmas, local businesses, organizations and residents can donate food and toys at any DRPS detachment, regional headquarters in Whitby, or any fire station in Oshawa, Whitby, Clarington, and Ajax.
Donations will then be picked up by volunteers who will sort and distribute them to members of the community.
Speaking to The Oshawa Express, Police Chief Paul Martin says the drive is one of the highlights of their year.
“It’s being able to do exactly what we say we’re going to do – and that’s work with the community, and work for the betterment of the community. This is one of those times,” says Martin.
He adds every year local businesses and individual volunteers step up and “try and make this as good as it can be for everybody in our community.”
Martin notes the drive has gotten grown significantly every year.
“We’ve got several volunteers who are giving up more than 2,400 hours a year for delivering food and toys, more food to our seniors shelters, and to other community agencies to try and brighten up this season for many people across the region,” he says.
Martin explains the drive wouldn’t be able to happen without the corporate sponsors, community agencies, and the individuals across the region who support the drive, and provide the food and toys “to the people who need it most.”
“We’re just a vehicle, it’s [all of them] that makes it happen,” he says. “It’s them that makes it all worthwhile.”