NEW WESTMINSTER: Hundreds of volunteers gathered at the Sikh Academy in Newton on Saturday to wrap thousands of toys collected and donated by members of the Sikh community for children in need this Christmas.

Toys for Kids, a campaign by the Sikh Academy Elementary and Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen in New Westminster, rallied the Sikh community to collect and donate toys for the children. The toys collected go to organisations such as the Salvation Army, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Family and New Westminster Family Place with an estimated twenty organisations benefitting from the toy drive this year.

Now in its sixth year, the event co-ordinator, Paul Hundle stated between 2,000 and 2,500 toys were collected this year as part of the campaign. Toys for Kids probably collected between 1,000 and 1,500 toys in its first year, “but it’s been growing every year.”

“Sikhs believe in “Sarbat Da Bhala”, meaning caring for all. It’s important during the Christmas season, to think of those less fortunate and make their Christmas much brighter” stated Hundle.
Around two hundred volunteers attended the Sikh Academy Elementary in Newton on Saturday to assist with the campaign. Several tables set up to organise the gifts into gift-wrapped boxes. Volunteers organized the toys by age groups, and then each table filled boxes with the toys based on lists from the benefitting organisations.

“What we do is basically we get lists from the community, like schools, other organizations like Surrey Women’s Centre, some shelters, New (Westminster) Family Place and what we do is we gather the lists, figure out what type of toys they need for their people that they’re serving.”

Planning for the toy drive begins at the beginning of October, with a call out to the community for donations following.

“We go to the community, ask for donations. We gather the donations, we gather the people that want the toys, bring them all together and then the toys are collected by this community groups,” he said.

This toy drive would not be possible without the help of the greater community “because one person cannot do it all” stated Hundle.

Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen operates monthly, weekly and special programs during the year, serving 3,500 meals every month, along with donating clothing and other items to residents in need who live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.