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Popular holiday season tradition returns to Canora

Fill the Sleigh day is coming up on Dec. 3, where Canora Red Apple Store customers are encouraged to fill an ambulance with toys and "bring a smile to a child's face."
During the annual Yuletide Toy Drive, an ambulance will be parked at the Red Apple Store in Canora for Fill the Sleigh Day on Dec. 3. The goal will be to fill it with as many toys as were accumulated in previous years, or even more.

CANORA - The Yuletide Toy Drive is underway for the 2022 Christmas season, and will continue until Dec. 16.

One of the highlights of the initiative is Fill the Sleigh Day on Dec. 3 at the Canora Red Apple Store, when an ambulance will be parked outside the store. Local and area residents are encouraged to “Help us fill the ambulance and bring a smile to a child’s face.”

The Yuletide Toy Drive has become a much-anticipated highlight of the holidays each year, according to Jocelyn Weinbender, spokesperson.

“It’s special having the opportunity to help families in need, with the focus on kids,” said Weinbender. “It’s a mark of hope in humanity, and it’s definitely needed. We’re noticing more people are needing it each year. Things are not getting easier for families.”

“The Yuletide Toy Drive is in memory of the late Byron Chayeski, an advanced care paramedic in Canora.”

Chayeski organized the first drive in 2010. At that time it was known as the Yuletide Medic Drive.

As is the case each year, the goal is to provide gifts for kids of all ages, from newborns to Grade 12.

Potential donors are reminded that food items are not accepted for this toy drive. Instead, food should be donated to various food hampers around Canora. For safety and health concerns, only new items should be donated, no used items.

Donations of new items that are encouraged include: books, mitts, toys, crafts, games and so on.

Donations may be made at the following locations during business hours until Dec. 16:  Red Apple, Canora Credit Union, Canora CIBC, and 802 Norway Road South.

“We get everything ahead of time, then let it sit for 24 hours for safety purposes,” said Weinbender. “All gifts get wrapped by volunteers, with deliveries to take place Dec. 20-22.”

Finding volunteers to help with the toy drive never seems to be a problem, according to Weinbender, whether it’s working at the Red Apple Store, or helping with gift wrapping.

Cash donations are also accepted at the Red Apple and at 802 Norway Road. This provides welcome flexibility to fill gaps if a specific gift is lacking for a certain age group.

A total of 64 children from 22 families received toys in time for Christmas in 2021.

Red Apple has made a commitment to donate 10 per cent of all sales on Dec. 3, Fill the Sleigh Day, back to the Yuletide Toy Drive for further toy purchases.

Anyone looking for more information regarding donations or wishing to be considered for gifts is encouraged to call 306-563-5625 until Dec. 16. Any families that request gifts are assured that they will remain anonymous.

Pickups can be arranged.

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