The Leaside Community Toy Drive and Men’s Night Out. The name of the event may seem long. But the aim of the evening is simple, yet extraordinary.
Since 2004, a group of men have gathered in Leaside each fall to bond and collect toys for kids in underserved areas of the city. The group, organized initially by Leasider Daryn Everett, donated toys to the CHUM Christmas Wish program in its first year.
After two years working with the CHUM program, the organizers of the Men’s Night Out decided they wanted to make a direct impact in their own community and, with the assistance of Jon Burnside, teamed up with Ahmed Hussein at the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office to distribute toys to approximately 250 kids.
Since then, the number of Leasiders attending the event has grown exponentially, and the group has donated literally tens of thousands of toys to children across the city.
Organizers Everett, Jeff Hohner, Edward Wong, Mike Zivot, and Lisa Lefebvre work year-round on the event, and having learned from what they refer to as “lots of learning curves along the way,” now provide toys to every single child in all six schools in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.
Last year, Hohner ecstatically announced, “We’re going to need a bigger truck!” Thanks to a donation by Hal Spradling at All-Canadian Storage, the group had access to that bigger vehicle, making their drop-off process a lot easier.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary, the organizers would love to appeal to all men in the community to join them this December 6th at 7:30 p.m. at the Leaside Pub to meet neighbours, and help raise even more money to ensure every child in the six Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park schools receives a toy again this year.
The event is an extremely fun evening with men ranging in age from young singles to distinguished retirees in attendance. Tickets are $25 at the door with additional monies raised through a raffle, live and silent auctions, and generous individual and corporate donors.
The group is aiming to generate over $25,000 this year to purchase toys for the almost 5,000 kids in the schools, many of whom live in deep poverty.
While the group is thankful for all donations, they ask for financial support only (rather than donations of toys). Cash, cheques, and e-transfers are accepted at the event (unfortunately, no credit cards).
If you can’t attend on Dec. 6th but would like to support this initiative, the organizers would appreciate financial support or silent auction items. Visit the GoFund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/leaside-community-toy-drive or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to contribute or become a sponsor. Visit www.leasidetoydrive.ca for complete info.