© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Sparky, the Prince Albert Fire Department’s mascot, sits in the back of a department vehicle filled with toys during the second period intermission at the Prince Albert Raiders game on Sunday evening at the Art Hauser Centre. They were joined on the ice by a Salvation Army vehicle that will be picking up the toys for distribution at Christmas.
The Prince Albert Optimist Club’s Santa Anonymous program picked up almost $4,000 worth of toys at Sunday’s P.A. Raiders game.
The Prince Albert Fire Department donated toys in the amount of $800, while Canadian Tire owner contributed the remaining $3,200 in toys.
All the donated toys will go to the Salvation Army, which helps distributes the toys as part of its Christmas hampers given to families in need each year.
Santa Anonymous chair Jim Nicholson noted the significance of the toy haul, which was presented during the second intermission of the Raiders game.
“It’s very, very important,” Nicholson said. “We usually get five, six, seven, sometimes eight bagfuls of toys, and that goes a long, long way to helping the Salvation Army meet their goal in making sure every kid has a good Christmas.”
For almost five decades, Santa Anonymous has helped distribute Christmas toys to area children through the Salvation Army.
The program is a favourite cause of the Prince Albert Firefighters’ Charity (PAFC), which has donated toys on an annual basis.
“It’s something that we believe in,” firefighter and PAFC director Adam Dziadyk said. “Everyone here has kids and they understand that for the most part, we have a steady job … and steady income, steady families.
“But that’s not the case for everyone and we see it all the time outside … It’s something that we do not want to stop donating to.”
Known for its dropboxes at local stores, Santa Anonymous experienced something of a setback this year with the closure of the P.A. Zellers, which had previously matched the PAFC’s toy donations.
Enter Malcolm Jenkins.
We usually get five, six, seven, sometimes eight bagfuls of toys, and that goes a long, long way to helping the Salvation Army meet their goal in making sure every kid has a good Christmas. Jim Nicholson
“Since Zellers has been out of business now, we had to look for a new matching business, see if anyone out there would want to help us, and I went to Malcolm Jenkins at Canadian Tire,” Dziadyk said.
“He’s been real good to us in the past … for fundraisers … and he jumped on board without a doubt and he told me he would match donations.”
Jenkins’ final $3,200 contribution surpassed even those expectations, and Dziadyk expressed his thanks to the philanthropist on behalf of the entire fire department.
The Salvation Army strives to put two toys per child in each hamper, which parents then come and pick up.
Maj. Glenn Patey said 60 to 65 per cent of the Salvation Army’s toy donations each year come from Santa Anonymous.
At 475, the total number of hampers has actually increased slightly from last year, he added.
“We were surprised at the number this year, because last year we were about 420 or something,” Patey said. “So we were surprised that we actually had 475 applications.”
The Salvation Army picked up its Santa Anonymous toy donations at the Raiders game from a fire department pickup truck driven onto the ice.
While Jenkins and the P.A. fire department represent two of the biggest donors, Nicholson thanked all members of the community who contribute toys for their support.
“The citizens of Prince Albert make it a success by donating to the program,” he said.