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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — This year will be the 19th annual Toy Drive Home Hardware and Moose FM are hosting for the Salvation Army.

The drive officially begins on December 5th and runs until the 17th, but Marie Braun, with Home Hardware, said they have already started collecting donations of new toys and food.

Additionally, on the 16th and 17th, Moose FM and Salvation Army staff will be live on location.

“[The Salvation Army] comes and picks it up the following Monday, and that doesn’t even give them a week to distribute it,” Marie added.

She said the sleigh at the store is usually overflowing with donations.

“It goes over onto the floor, and sometimes we take boxes to the back just to make room,” Marie said.

“It’s always been a good turnout. We live in a very generous community.”

Jared Braun, executive director of the Salvation Army, said the impact of the toy drive is huge, especially this year due to families fleeing Ukraine.

“Families who have gone through so much loss, whether it’s the Ukrainian families or others in our community who have been impacted by inflation, by job factors, by a health crisis, it’s tough,” Jared said.

“Christmas is meant to be a time for joy and for excitement… We are so grateful for the community support in partnering with us with these toy drives.”

Jared said they try to make the experience as personal as possible, giving the parents the toys to allow them to wrap the gifts.

He would like to remind donors that they will also need gifts for teenagers.

“We love getting the Legos and the cute toys for boys and girls of the younger ages, which is definitely a need, but the teens can be a challenge sometimes,” Jared said.

“Getting gift cards for places like Winners, Walmart, Amazon, Ardenes in the mall can really be helpful in giving a nice gift to teenagers. Nice hygiene supplies, bath and shower kits for teen guys or girls can be really helpful.”

The Christmas Kettle campaign is also still running at many locations in town, including Canadian Tire, No Frills, Safeway, Save On Foods, Totem Mall, Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart and Winners.

Volunteers are still needed at these locations, and sign-up can be completed online at the Kettle Volunteer Locations website.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.