The University of Manitoba’s Student’s Union (UMSU) Toy Drive will launch as the “411 Toy Drive Challenge” in honour of U of M student Allan Gould’s single-handed contribution of 411 toys to this year’s drive.
“His amazing contribution inspired us to rename the drive to challenge our community at the university to help make a bigger contribution to the community at large,” said Nour Rashid, UMSU vice-president (advocacy).
Gould, a fine art student with the goal of working in animation, has been contributing to the drive for the last five years.
“I get things given to me on the holidays and I realize that many people are not as fortunate as I am, so it feels good to give back,” he said.
Gould noted that being in university is often a challenge for people with children “because you have so many extra worries, such as exams and homework, on top of your job and taking care of your kids at the same time.
“I love Christmas, and I think it’s important that kids have some presents to open on the holidays.”
Gould started thinking of this year’s drive as early as Boxing Day last year and quickly took advantage of post-holiday sales, often negotiating with stores to buy items in bulk.
“It isn’t difficult to collect a large donation if you know how to look for things,” he explained.
The UMSU Toy Drive started in 2007, after UMSU noticed that many of the people applying for aid from the Holiday Food Hamper program were people supporting families.
Ilze Ceplis, communications and program assistant with UMSU, explained that Financial Aid and Awards sends UMSU the names of those who have applied for financial aid and would be eligible for the Holiday Food Hamper and Toy Drive program.
“But we put up notices so that people who may not be on those lists can also apply for aid,” she said.
Donations for the toy drive will be accepted at the UMSU office as well at collection areas around University Centre starting in mid-November. While almost any toy will be accepted, “we most appreciate toys in good condition that can be enjoyed by all ages of boys and girls and are non-violent in nature,” Ceplis said.
Those unable to make a donation are encouraged to consider volunteering some time to help pack donations between Dec. 12-14, or to help with deliveries on Dec. 15. Volunteers are also needed to help collect donations to cover the costs of packaging and delivery.
“I am inspired when I see other students out helping with various causes around the community, and I hope people will see what I have done and be encouraged to make a donation or get out and make a contribution,” Gould said.