The Leaside Toy Drive is a volunteer-based initiative that collaborates with local merchants and generous donors to raise funds to purchase approximately 6,000 educational toys every year. These toys are distributed primarily to elementary schools in the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park neighbourhoods, where many children face socio-economic challenges. The Leaside Toy Drive aims to bring joy and learning opportunities to these children each year through supplying gifts.
This year marks our 20th anniversary, and we are proud of how far we have come from our humble beginnings. The Leaside Toy Drive was founded by Daryn Everett and joined shortly thereafter by Jeff Hohner, who attended the very first toy drive event held in 2004. At that time, they would collect donated unwrapped toys and deliver these toys to the CHUM Christmas Wish Campaign, a charity that supports children and families in need.
Over time, the Leaside Toy Drive shifted its focus to serve communities that were close to Leaside. Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park are vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in Central East Toronto, where people from over 100 different ethnic backgrounds live together. Many of them are newcomers to Canada, who face various challenges and opportunities in their new home.
As our toy drive grew we added phenomenal committee members to ensure we were able to sustain this community initiative. Our leadership team now includes: Michael Zivot, Edward Wong, David Skelly, Lisa Lefebvre, Kathy Aubin, Robyn Hochglaube and Chad Thornton.
The Leaside Toy Drive committee members work with toy manufacturers and distributors to purchase gifts at a discounted price, ensuring quality and educational value for children from Grades 1 to 8, delivering them directly to the participating schools. The Leaside Toy Drive also supports other causes for these communities throughout the year, such as food security projects and families in need requirements. This was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are proud to say we will reach a milestone of 50,000 gifts delivered in our 20th year!