Toy Drive Has Immeasurable Impact
The annual Auxiliary Toy Drive often has an impact beyond what most participants can imagine.
Superintendent David Rydzik was reminded of that impact when days before the launch of this year’s toy drive a 22-year-old man approached him to ask if he remembered him.
Sensing he couldn’t, the 43 Division Unit Commander was reminded that he attended a shelter that the young man was in as a boy delivering toys as part of the Auxiliary Toy Drive.
“The young man told me that day was one of the most impactful in his life because of the joy that I and the other officers brought to him,” said Rydzik. “He talked about the abusive relationship his mother was in that got them there. He said he was at one of the lowest points in his life before we showed up with a toy for him.”
Now 22 years old, the young man is enrolled in college and plans to apply to be a Toronto Police officer.
“He said it is because of the impact that we had on him that day that he wants to become an officer,” added Rydzik. “We are making an impact everyday even though we might not see it.”
The senior officer made the remarks at the 29th annual Toronto Police Auxiliary Toy Drive launched on November 18 at 43 Division in Scarborough.
Started in 1974 by Auxiliary Officer Carrie Mallin to bring smiles to the faces of children in shelters over the holidays , the drive has supported thousands of youths and their families over the festive season.
“Carrie saw a real need for helping children who are less fortunate and making them a little happier by ensuring that they received a gift over the holiday season,” noted Deputy Chief Rob Johnson. “This program is driven by the Auxiliary officers who volunteer their time with countless community members, police officers and local businesses.”
Buses crammed with gifts will be delivered to several shelters and community organizations in Scarborough, including the 35-bed Homeward Family centre (formerly Julliette’s Place) that is a refuge for abused women and their children.
“Most of the time, women that we serve have to leave everything behind and start their life with very little,” said Jyoti Jedav who is a Transitional Support Housing Worker. “So any kind of fundraising event, donation and support is very much appreciated by the families in need.”
As a small child whose mother raised three children after their father died suddenly when they were very young, Retired Women Teachers of Ontario President Brigitte Bryan knows the importance of donations.
“We were new immigrants and our mother didn’t speak much English,” she noted. “One year, we were on the receiving end of a lovely Christmas dinner and toys from our church and the Salvation Army. I hope the kids receiving these toys give back when they grow up.”
Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie thanked the Auxiliary officers, the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario and others for supporting the toy drive.
“It is so wonderful that you are helping so many children in the community get the same Christmas as everybody else,” she said. “They deserve this.”
New and unwrapped toys for ages 0 to 16 can be dropped off at 41 Division at 2222 Eglinton Ave East, 42 Division at 242 Milner Avenue, 43 Division at 4331 Lawrence Avenue East or any CIBC branch in Scarborough unitl December 13.
There are also ‘Cram the Cruiser’ events at Scarborough Town Centre on December 2 and 3 and at the Toronto Zoo and Malvern Mall on December 9.