By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Durham Regional Police Service’s 29th annual Food and Toy Drive couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
Boxes overflowing with donations of toys and food items were on display in the gymnasium of Dr. S.J. Phillips Public School as staff and students joined DRPS officers in the official launch of the annual campaign on Nov. 15
DRPS Cst. Darryl Rice, who took over as coordinator of the drive over the past few years, says he has witnessed a great amount of generosity in Durham.
“The experience has left me humbled and full of emotion,” he told students.
Rice says the greatest characteristic of Canadians is compassion.
“The red [in the Canadian flag] represents the amount of blood that pumps through our hearts,” he said.
DRPS Chief Paul Martin said the drive wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of volunteers, noting there were approximately 2,400 hours of work performed in 2016.
“Thank you all for participating. It’s about making your community a better place,” Martin stated.
Dr. S.J. Phillips Public School principal David Robson believes donating to the DRPS drive is a good way to teach students a sense of community.
Robson recalled speaking to a Grade 1 student about the items in the donation box and the student commented he would like one of them.
“We started talking about how he’s had happy Christmases and can expect something nice under the tree. We also talked about how there are other boys and girls who don’t have happy Christmases,” Robson said. “He really started to understand he is lucky and it is important to give something to somebody else. It was very heart-warming to me.”
Robson said the school did very well taking into consideration collections began at the beginning of November, when the holiday season might not yet be on many people’s radar.
Overall, approximately 200 toys and between 300 and 400 food items were donated from the Dr. S.J. Phillips school community.
The launch also included a performance by DRPS musical band The Heat and Santa Claus himself, who briefly appeared to remind the boys and girls to be good for the rest of the year.
The Food and Toy Drive provides families in need in Durham Region with food and toys for the holiday season.
Throughout the months of November and December, local businesses, organizations and individuals donate items, which are then picked up by volunteers, sorted and distributed to members of the community.
Donations can be dropped off at any DRPS division, any fire station in Oshawa, Whitby, Clarington and Ajax, and Durham Regional Headquarters in Whitby.
Businesses or individuals wishing to make large donations can contact organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.