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Agencies team up to brighten the holidays

The annual fill an ambulance driver brought in toys and over $4,000 in cash
Karen Poitras and Jessica Dionne help pack up toys for children in need this holiday season.

Teddy bears, board games, and monster trucks filled the paramedic bay on their way to families in need.

The North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (NEOFACS) toy drive worked with Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB)’s paramedics to fill an ambulance full of toys and over $4,000 in monetary donations.

CDSSAB employees collected toys at Walmart and Canadian Tire on Nov. 25, and they had lists of toys that have been requested.

“I think we did amazing,” said Derrick Cremin, Cochrane District paramedic commander. “We came out in full force.”

Community paramedic Jessica Dionne’s work stood out to the CDSSAB.

“I’ve always been involved in my community,” she said. “So I volunteered for the Christmas parade and now the toy drives.”

Since moving to Timmins from Chapleau, she has looked for ways to get involved.

“When it’s the kids picking out a toy to give away to somebody who needs it, I find that nice,” she said. “The generosity surprises me every time.”

Chermin said she’s been instrumental in the success of the drive.

“She’s been helping out with everything,” he said.

NEOFACS will deliver toys to families until just before Christmas, said volunteer co-ordinator Karen Poitras.

There are 175 families in Timmins signed up so far to receive toys, and they’re expecting higher numbers than last year.

“We won’t know until the last minute. We often get last-minute requests,” she said. “I’m thinking we’ll have more, and the word is getting out as well, so some people are calling and saying, ‘I’m a first-time recipient,’ so I’m thinking we’re going to get more this year.”

The toys are distributed through the Community Angel Campaign, which provides toys to children ages 0-18 who receive NEOFACS services and require additional support through the holiday season.

Last year, nearly 400 children received toys through the drive.

There are still ways to donate. 

The Timmins Rock will collect toys at the games on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at the McIntyre Arena. The Timmins Falcons girls' hockey team is collecting toys at Walmart on Dec. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Donations can also be dropped off at any NEOFACS location. All the toys donated in Timmins will go to families in the city.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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